Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins
Katie Connell is a high-strung attorney whose sloppy drinking habits and stunted love life collide hilariously in a doomed celebrity case in Dallas. When she flees Texas for the Caribbean, Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and a wicked Bloody Mary habit, but she trades one set of problems for another when she begins to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. She’s bewitched by the voodoo spirit of an abandoned house in the rainforest and discovers that she’s as much a danger to herself as the island’s bad guys are. As the worst of her worlds collide, Katie drags herself back to the courthouse to defend her new friend Ava, an island local accused of stabbing the senator she’s been sleeping with.
I really wanted to like this book more. But the fact is that this book is all over the place. This novel is crowded with story lines.
Hutchins’ writing style is quirky, at times so full of idioms that I found myself having to stop and look for definitions. The main character, Katie, doesn’t really have that many redeeming qualities making it hard at times to really care about what she is going to do next. Hutchins does have a talent for imagery and world building making it easy to feel transported to St. Marcos.
The “love story” between Katie and her crush Nick is little more than a one sided obsession on Katie’s part. Later in the book, Katie has another chance at love but it feels overly cautious compared to the impulsive Katie we’ve gotten to know up to this point. Katie’s growing drinking habit takes up a lot of the book but it is a little light weight in my opinion. The one story line that I thought had the most promise is the one that was practically ignored in the book – the death of Katie’s parents.
Katie’s parents are killed in a car crash while on vacation in St. Marcos. Katie, the super star lawyer, waits over a year to investigate this horrible incident. This story line ends rather disappointingly. No big crime is discovered and the story of the car crash is anti-climactic and dull. I’m really not sure how this story line helped the overall novel except to get Katie to St. Marcos.
Before long, Katie is involved in several simultaneous sub plots but none of them are fully developed. One moment Grace is defending an high profile alleged rapist and the next she is rooming with a woman she just met in St. Marcos. Then she is trying to solve another murder while renovating a ruined half built mansion she acquires while on detox. There is also a ghost thrown in for good measure. Most writers would be content to work with one or two of these story lines but Hutchins really over loads the novel without successfully exploring each one.