Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review: Doors Open

Summary: Three friends descend upon an art auction in search of some excitement. Mike Mackenzie-retired software mogul, bachelor and fine art enthusiast-wants something that money can't buy. Fellow art-lover Allan Cruickshank is bored with his banking career and burdened by a painful divorce. And Robert Gissing, an art professor, is frustrated that so many paintings stay hidden in corporate boardrooms, safes and private apartments. After the auction-and a chance encounter with crime boss Chib Calloway-Robert and Allan suggest the "liberation" of several paintings from the National Gallery, hoping Mike will dissuade them. Instead, he hopes they are serious.

As enterprising girlfriends, clever detectives, seductive auctioneers and a Hell's Angel named Hate enter the picture, Ian Rankin creates a highly-charged thriller, a faced-past story of second guesses and double crosses that keep changing the picture, right until the harrowing finish. -- Reagan Arthur

For many years, I have heard wonderful things about the award-winning author Ian Rankin. While I haven't read a lot of the mystery/suspense genre lately, I was pretty sure that his books would appeal to me. So when I discovered that Mr. Rankin's latest novel DOORS OPEN was published by the Reagan Arthur imprint and would count for the Reagan Arthur Book Challenge, I was pretty darn excited.

I will admit that I did read some less than stellar reviews before starting this novel, but I decided that I wouldn't let them sway my opinion. Most of the complaints were from huge fans of Mr. Rankin's Inspector Rebus series, and they just didn't feel that this standalone novel was up to par with his other efforts. Since I was a newbie to Mr. Rankin's writing, I didn't know what to expect; and I found that I did enjoy DOORS OPEN. Would I go so far as to say that I loved it though? Probably not, but I did like.

Overall, I found the story to be suspenseful, and I appreciated the few twists and turns; however, I actually thought the book read kind of like a movie. And I rarely say this, but I actually think DOORS OPEN just might make a better movie than a book. (I'm not sure that all of you will get what I mean by that.)

I think my reasons for saying that DOORS OPEN would make a good movie are maybe the same reasons why I didn't love this book. There were just a few things missing from this novel that made it less than stellar in my opinion. The main characters were kind of flat and I didn't think the author developed that well. In fact, they were almost caricatures of a crime team. Maybe they weren't fully developed because there was a group of men committing the crime rather than one individual, but I never felt as if I got to really know any of the characters. And truth be told, I didn't really care about any of them.

I also had some issues with the basic plot -- the entire crime didn't seem very feasible to me. I wanted to understand why these men were willing to risk everything to steal a few paintings. I never really got it, especially when it came to the character of Mike, a relatively young guy who was filthy rich. He was supposed to be bored with his life, but I still had issues with him being so bored that he'd help mastermind a huge crime!

Now please keep in mind that the issues I had with DOORS OPEN were because I expect more plot and character development from a book. Had this been a movie, I would have been fine with the one-dimensional, stereotypical characters; and I never would have given a minute's thought to the feasibility of the crime. I guess that's what I mean by DOORS OPEN read like a movie to me!

What I found myself really enjoying about this novel was Mr. Rankin's writing style. I can see why he has won so many awards for his books because he can certainly tell a story. I thought the dialogue was realistic and the storyline was unique. And I especially loved how he described everything -- from the art galleries, to the paintings, to the characters' actions, to the setting of the novel in Edinburgh, Scotland. I had absolutely no desire to stop reading this novel, and I was curious about how everything would play out. I am definitely interested in reading more of Mr. Rankin's novels, and I desperately want to read some of the Inspector Rebus series.

While I wasn't blown away by DOORS OPEN, I still found it entertaining and worth a try. If you are like me, and have never read anything by Mr. Rankin before, I think you'll find this book is a good read. However, if you are already a fan of the author's (and know just how wonderful his books can be), then you might be somewhat disappointed with his latest effort.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book.

I read this book for the Reagan Arthur Book Challenge which Kathy/Bermuda Onion and I are hosting. It's not too late to sign up so please join us!


bermudaonion said...

I've been looking forward to reading this because I've been wanting to try Rankin's work too. I'll try to go in it with an open mind. Great review!

Alison said...

I've been looking forward to your review on this one. I completely understand what you mean by how this book could actually make a better movie - and it's a movie I would definitely go see!

Sandy Nawrot said...

For some reason, the name of the author sounds familiar. I've read so many mystery thrillers, I can't keep track. And they ARE a slippery slope. They really have to work hard to set themselves apart from the masses. I don't know if this one would do it for me. Thanks for the honest review!

carolsnotebook said...

Actually this sounds like one I might enjoy. I like that it's a stand alone, too.

S. Krishna said...

Hmm. I have this one, and definitely still want to read it. I'm hoping that knowing your reservations about it will help temper my expectations! Thanks for the review.

Beth F said...

Oh no! I too "expect [good] plot and character development from a book." But I plan to give this a try anyway. Maybe if I go in knowing what to expect, I'll have an easier time with it.