Kenneth T. (Houston, TX)
"Cloudland" is Overcast
Cloudland, a new novel by Joseph Olshan , is clever but ultimately disappointing. A plot taken from the unfinished work of Wilkie Collins promises much more than this story delivers. Stick figures, not real characters, populate the pages. I read with interest a tale hoping I would care about the people tripping over each other. I didn't. To quote Gertrude Stein, "There's nothing there there."
Elizabeth K. (Dallas, TX)
Cloudland - Mysterious Until the Very End
I really enjoyed this book. The main character was likeable but far from perfect - she felt like a real person, someone I might know - a woman whose choices were not always the best. She's surrounded by a multitude of plausible suspects, multidimensional people, which kept the story suspenseful. I wasn't sure until almost the very end who the "bad guy" really was. I like stories that have values, like this one, but that still acknowledge the shades of gray that we live with - everything isn't black and white. I liked this book well enough that I'm going to read others by this author. I think you'll enjoy his storytelling, the clarity with which he uses language, and his believable characters.
Barbara F. (Saint Louis, MO)
Henrietta the Hero
With so few prominent characters, you knew immediately that you would be suspicious of everyone in this "who-dunnit" taking place in rural Vermont. Complex relationships also play predominately in this easy read, and I know you will understand the title of my review once you given this book just a few days of your attention. A fast, fun read.
Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)
Wilkie Collins is credited as being the father of the modern mystery story and he plays a prominent role in Cloudland. A scenario in an unfinished tome of his is pursued as the origin of the serial murders committed in this novel that is based on a never solved series of the same in the Connecticut River Valley. Catherine Winslow, a former journalist now writing a helpful hints column for the local paper, essentially tells the story. The Collins book has gone missing from Catherine’s house and becomes an important piece of the puzzle. So it is that Catherine’s former lover returns and where he, like everyone in Cloudland is thought by his neighbor to be the suspect at one time or another, and everyone becomes his own detective at some point. Catherine’s introspection in the final paragraphs is the kind of who did, what and who am I? that Collins employed so there is a debt to Collins here.
One thing I found quite interesting was that Olshan’s voice, or protagonist was a woman. Although I didn’t feel the characters were unlikeable as other readers have, I wasn’t necessarily emotionally invested in them either. Could be that’s a result of male fiction writing. This is a good book for clubs and beach reads.
Kathleen S. (St Louis, MO)
It Had Me at Chapter One
This book starts out immediately with the discovery of a dead body in an orchard and quickly moves from there. Interesting details are shared about Vermont and its local inhabitants and history. Cloudland is a totally engrossing work that kept me hooked from the beginning.
There is an interesting tie-in to the works of 19th century writer, Wilkie Collins. I thought this was a novel twist and has piqued my interest in reading works by Collins, in the public domain, and free on eReaders.
Cloudland is a novel about insanity, revenge and unrequited love. It is gripping and well written with enough red herrings to entertain the reader.
This book would be suitable for Mystery Book Clubs.
Nancy K. (Highland Park, IL)
Cloudland is a book for readers who love a well paced mystery. Taking place in rural snowy Vermont, this cozy has a literary bent. The mystery proceeds at a good pace due to rounded characters, evolved relationships and an innovative plot involving the work of real life Victorian novelist Wilkie Collins. All told, this is a richer than usual mystery. And, I did curl up in front of my fireplace to read it.
Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)
OK but not Great.
While reading the first chapter I thought that I would really like this book but I found myself loosing my enthusiasm for it as I read further. I just couldn't get myself to like the characters. The plot was interesting but seemed to have too many twists that became more and more confusing. This would probably be a good airplane read.