W H Allen & Co
This is a Murder She Wrote novel. When I found it, in the charity bookshelf area of Homebase (a DIY outlet), I lost track of my eyeballs as they shot out of my head and skittered away across the lino. I didn’t care. I was overjoyed.
My enjoyment of Murder She Wrote is entirely unironic. I was singing along, lighter in the air, with Maddy Myers in December and I curl my toes happily whenever Samantha Allen mentions catching episodes. I own and cherish Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves — exercises for the retired lady, which indirectly but definitely includes masturbation — on VHS. Jessica Fletcher is truly a heroine of mine, because she has such gentle poise, tells people exactly what she wishes she could respect about them, and is consistently a) right about murders and b) romantically desired despite being 100% non-eroticised.
The Death of Sherlock Holmes is the novelisation of the pilot. I’m not so lucky that novels “written by” J.B. Fletcher just fall into my hands. But novelisations hold a certain fascination for me, and the prose version of a television episode I know so well has particular charm. Here’s the thing: I had to remind myself that I knew what this character looked like and sounded like. I had to talk myself out of picturing somebody different. Why is that? What makes words so powerful?
Beyond that, there’s no great essay to write about this book for me. It’s one hundred and sixty-six pages of old familiar. Precisely what Christmas Eve needed.
Enders is the second book in Lissa Price’s science fiction duology. The first book, Starters, was a fun, action-packed, read about a young girl named Callie. She and her brother are orphans, and in order to support them, she rents out her body to a company called Prime Destinations. Prime Destinations is a service that allows senior citizens to borrow young bodies in order to experience youthful adventures (clubbing, sky diving, skiing etc.) All for a nominal fee of course.
Unfortunately, Enders reads like a completely different book. Prime Destinations has been dissolved, but someone is still coming after Callie, and other Starters who were part of the program. Whereas the plot of Starters was strong and focused, Enders, weaves in and out, never quite sure what direction it should be pointed at. Are the chips in their heads the main obstacle? The voice in Callie’s head, that may be her long lost father? The return of the Old Man (the first book’s villain)? Or the new, highly problematic, relationship with the Old Man’s son, (who first kisses her while inhabiting another person’s body)?
But most disappointing was that the elements I enjoyed so thoroughly in book one were barely more than an afterthought in book two. In Starters, Callie is such an interesting character because she is motivated out of love for her brother and her best friend, Michael. She risked so much in order to save them. Enders, however, has her abandoning her younger brother with Michael, while she runs off with her new romantic lead. And that was only the beginning of her many character inconsistencies. The Callie of Starters, is not the Callie of Enders.
Though I applaud Lissa Price for avoiding the temptation to follow the trend and make this a trilogy, I still think it was one book too many. After such a strong beginning, Enders just wasn’t the ending I wanted it to be.