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Gingerbread Man by Maggie Shayne

By Pamelascott





PAGES: 340


YEAR: 2001



Detective Vincent O’Malley has always been able to remain calm and objective while investigating even the most gruesome of crimes. But when he finds two missing children dead in an abandoned house, his well-ordered life turns upside down.

When the FBI takes over the case, a traumatised Vince reluctantly agrees to take some time off – but vows to find the murderer on his own. With a piece of crime-scene evidence to guide his investigation, he travels to a small town in upstate New York, where he meets Holly Newman – a fragile woman whose sister was abducted and killed years ago. Vince is convinced that her sister’s death is linked to the recent murders – and that essential clues are hidden deep in Holly’s mind. Now desperate to solve the case, he just can’t let go, he must find a way to reach this lovely, lonely woman – and help her confront the searing memories that have haunted her all these long, painful years.


ARE MY CHILDREN still alive? Sarah Prague asked the question in a quiet, steady voice that he heard very clearly despite the noise around her. Cops coming and going, keyboards clicking, phones ringing. She looked haggard. Hard. She hadn’t always, Vince figured. The worry lines bracketing her eyes, her mouth, the dry skin, the chapped lips, the sense that she really didn’t give a damn what she looked like – those things had been strangers to her that first day. The day her kids didn’t come home from school. Now those lines, that hardness, had made themselves at home. It looked as if they planned to stay a while. This shouldn’t have happened to Sarah Prague, a PTA mom whose world revolved around her kids. It shouldn’t have happened to her husband Mike, full-time plumber and part-time Little League coach. It shouldn’t happen to anyone. Ever.


I mostly enjoyed Gingerbread Man. The crime element of the novel works really well. Shayne offers an interesting take on that staple of crime fiction – missing children. I liked the way she executes the story. There are a couple of things I felt just didn’t work.

I’ve never read any romantic thrillers and if Gingerbread Man is anything to go by I don’t think I would again. Not on purpose anyway. The romantic element of Gingerbread Man just didn’t do it for me. As far as I’m concerned romance and crime just don’t go together.

Vince and Holly’s romantic shenanigans really start to get on my wick. Their flirting and incessant eye-batting becomes nauseating. I wanted to hurl or scream at them to get on with the story. Vince was a macho asshole. He was all I’m a man Red and I don’t want to get involved with you because I am attracted to needy women I think I can save and all I can offer you is a good pump. Holly had the maiden-in-distress thing down to a fine art. She was all but Vince, you big hunk of burning love, I have an itch I want you to a scratch, a real bad one. Bleugh!

I really didn’t like Holly as a character. She came across as a weak, pathetic, needy mess most of the time. She had never gotten over her sister’s abduction and murder that happened when she was just a child. I accept that you can never really get over something like that and will likely be haunted forever. I just didn’t believe Holly’s fragility. It was far too over the top and irritating. I thought Vince was a bit of a cliché cop though he did have his good moments.

I thought some of the writing was very average at times in Gingerbread Man. Shayne uses a lot of repetition and clumsy words. Shayne felt the need to over-explain a lot of the time as if she wasn’t confident readers would get her point and had to spell out every detail in black and white. I expected more from an author of more than fifty novels.

Onto the good stuff. Gingerbread Man deals with some pretty dark stuff. Child abuse. Child kidnapping. Child murder. I was impressed by the fact Shayne managed to avoid making Gingerbread Man too violent, bloody and gory. Shayne really builds tension and suspense in Gingerbread Man. Shayne unveils the plot a little piece at a time and I felt compelled to read on. I had no idea who the killer was. Not a clue. When Shayne reveals his identity and connection to Holly my jaw hit the floor. I loved the ending when Holly discovers her sister survived and is reunited with her. Aw bless! Bring out the hankies!

Overall Gingerbread Man was a decent novel. The crime aspect of the story worked really well. There were some interesting twists and turns. The romance element let Gingerbread Man down badly.



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