The Gingerbread Man
by Maggie Shayne
**For anyone who is still looking for another book for Halloween Bingo 2016:
- This book takes place during the fall.
- This book is a mystery.
- There are mentions of Halloween and even a Halloween party takes place, though it is not really the focus.
- A dark and stormy night is involved for two significant scenes, one a flashback and one in present day.
**I almost wish I would have saved this book for my own square or something, but I started reading it well in advanced, not knowing much about it aside from it being a mystery and romantic suspense.
Hard-edged Detective Vince O’Malley’s most recent case penetrated even his protective shell. Ordered to take time off to recover, he can’t let go, and on his own, follows the clues to Holly’s small upstate NY town.
His presence stirs ghosts from the past, shadows of a little girl lost, the suspicions of some tight-lipped locals with secrets to hide, and more than that inside Holly’s fragile mind and untouched heart.
To be honest, the summary blurb above doesn't really do this book any justice. But I suppose that's what blurbs are anyway: they just hit upon a very brief description of certain elements in the book. It would never mention the creepiness of the serial kidnapper/rapist/killer lurking in the background, watching our heroine as she struggles through her returning feelings of trauma--the feelings she's never been able to let go of since she watched her baby sister get snatched from right in front of her. It wouldn't mention the intriguing side characters in the small town of Dilmun--from the good Chief Jim Mallory, to the grandfatherly Doc Graycloud, to Dilmun's very own reclusive celebrity, Reginald D'Voe.
Because outside of our main couple, there is so much more going on in this little town in the background of the story than many would know to look for. Of course, while the book DOES touch on all of these background events and background characters, they don't linger. This is first and foremost a creepy crime thriller involving Holly Newman and Vince O'Malley; and while I DID love following them as the main characters, I would have also liked to see more about the rest of the characters in this book.
Maggie Shayne creates a very attention-hooking crime thriller with a great balance of romance. While the story and the romance itself felt kind of dated, and while I was less than enamored with our hero detective, I really found myself absorbed into this book and the crime thriller. The mystery had me really guessing; because I had my suspicions about the possible culprit as well as other characters in the Dilmun community, but some of the revelations really did have me quite excited.
The relationship between Holly and Vince was pretty good in a non-romantic sense. Their romantic relationship, on the other hand, could use some work. But I think a lot of that has to do with Vince and his preconceptions about Holly and the small town of Dilmun--it rubbed me the wrong way and I'm still a bit chafed by his snap judgments borne from his own inner turmoil, his own problems. And also, their romance felt a bit dated as well--yes, even though there's a lot of sexual tension and a lot of lusting going around.
But all-in-all, I really DID enjoy reading this book--one of Maggie Shayne's older works. Again, what I DID love about this were the characters of Dilmun, and how well the balance between romance and mystery was kept.
Only the ending kind of settled awkwardly with me. I felt like the resolution was a little rushed, and that there were some loose ends that needed to be tied up. I also felt like the ending came about kind of... well, the dialogue and some of the scenes felt really unnatural and almost cheesy. "Awkward" would be a really great word to use to describe those last couple of chapters, maybe.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge