Raven Books/Orca Books, 2010; 132 pages
Description from the publisher:
When detective Rick Montoya returns to the city to try to clear his name after being accused of taking a bribe, he discovers someone is living in his apartment. Before he can find out who it is, the apartment house goes up in flames. Rick watches covertly as the police remove two bodies. Was the firebombing meant for him? Who exactly was killed in the fire? And why? What was his landlady Cheryl doing at home in the middle of the afternoon? And why is her daughter Susanna acting strangely? Then his estranged wife arrives at the scene of the fire. The questions mount up, along with the suspects.About the series:
Rapid Reads, by Orca Book Publishers, is a new line of short novels for adult readers. On their website, Orca explains: "In our increasingly fast-paced world we believe there is a need for well-written, well-told novels that can be read in one sitting. Rapid Reads feature great writing and great storytelling in a small package."
The Spider Bites wasn't a terrible read – there just wasn't a lot there. The plot was certainly simple and easy to follow; in fact, it was so simple that there was almost no suspense involved – not a good thing in a mystery novel. And the lack of description and character development left me feeling like I was reading just part of a whole book. It also kept me from forming any real interest in or sympathy for the protagonist, or any of the other characters, for that matter. But while the book may be slight, it's well-written, there was a bit of humor thrown in along the way, and some of the dialogue did have the ring of truth. As I said, not terrible.
The idea of a series of short, easy-to-read books for adults sounds interesting, although I'm not sure how practical it is, in reality. I think it's possible that it might work well for (as the Rapid Reads brochure says) "those struggling with literacy challenges." Otherwise, I can't really see how the books are likely to hold anyone's attention long enough to finish them, even though they can definitely be read in one sitting.
However, I was definitely intrigued by the writing of author Medora Sale who also writes as Caroline Roe (not sure which is the real name and which the pseudonym). I think I'd like to give her other, more substantial works a try.
[Note: I received my copy of this book from the publisher, free of charge, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received, and the opinions expressed here are my own.]