Teacher Beware

Charlotte Raine’s Teacher Beware is a a thriller/romance which revolves around the lives of a substitute teacher, Grace, and a cardiologist, Sam, who meet while witnessing a double murder.  Inevitably, these two find they have much more in common than simply the blood splattered on their clothes.

Grace, a recent resident of Murray, Virginia, is looking for a fresh start after a traumatic life event while Sam chooses to remain private in the hopes of protecting himself so as not to be hurt again, as he was growing up, by those whom were supposed to love him the most.  Sam himself expresses this reality, “I think about . . . my own obstacles in life.  I think about how scars shows [sic] someone who has lived thoroughly.  It shows someone who saw his or her worst fears and kept pushing forward”  (267-268).

Thus, I think the potential for deep characterization was there, but further development was needed in order for the reader to fully comprehend their unique situations and motivations as in the case with Deke, the troubled youth in the book.  As I would tell my students, slow down and take your time for fully developed second-order writing or MORE! MORE! MORE! written across the page.

In addition, a more thorough editing is needed throughout as there were abundant split infinitives (please, Peeps, do not let “not” separate to + verb), a subject/verb agreement error as noted above, and pronoun reference errors as in “Whenever I look at human [sic], I imagine their heart . . .”  (63).

If reading Teacher Beware for a book club, a selection of finger foods is preferred as an avoidance of the use of knives is a must.

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Dark Digital Sky

darkdigitalskyI think I definitely have a crush on Los Angeles Private Investigator Chalk (short for Chaucer, his father was an English professor), the protagonist in Carac Allison’s thriller Dark Digital Sky.  Any man who has scrolling text on a screen from classic literary works alongside another screen displaying horror in his living room is a man after my own heart.  In addition, Chalk’s no nonsense worldview and ability to read people is refreshing:

I spend most of my life working life in the 911 driving around LA.  I’m not going to go home, pull on some runners, and see LA. slower while panting.  I can’t swim.  I disagree with pick-up basketball as a philosophical concept.  I feel that rec softball leagues are most likely communist sleeper cells.  I believe in-line skating invariably leads to spectacular death.  I suspect that racket ball is entirely made up each time it is played.  (Loc 143)

Everyone assumes that sperm banks are for women who have given up on finding a decent guy alive and in the wild.  (Loc 207)

Autocomplete is limiting discourse and killing the language.  (Loc 540).

We’ve reached her home.  And waiting on the step is the daughter who had a different dad for one confusing month in a Hollywood mansion.  We just keep finding ways to fuck up kids.  (Loc 874).

A former FBI agent, Chalk is hired to find the adult children of a man who was once a sperm bank donor.  Yet, during his investigation Chalk stumbles onto far more.  Instead of causing one’s eyes to glaze over, Allison is able to portray Chalk’s work with technology as an investigative aid in terms an admitted user of blanket statements such as, “The intricacies of technology are boring,” would recant.

With Chalk being the son of an English professor and one who alludes to classic works, the numerous typos, missing articles, and repeated words sprinkled throughout Dark Digital Sky are distracting.

“frunk”  (Loc 119 and 3752) instead of “trunk”

“get back the condo” (Loc 2239) instead of “get back to the condo”

“And I when I sober up . . .”  (Loc 2709)

“I give the him a . . .” (Loc 3354)

For the purposes of book club, pizza delivery would mirror Chalk’s typical eating habits, but his visit to The Sunset Tower Hotel involving a “California omelet with goat cheese, avocado and scallions” (Loc 1000) sounds much more mouthwatering in order to enlist a lively discussion.