Hell’s Half Acre

I don’t really know what to think of this book. I’ll try to form some sort of..review.

I really dreaded writing this because I wasn’t really sure how to put my thoughts on this into a review. Whenever I feel negative or just..weird..about a book, the review seems a lot harder to do than when I love something. In this case, it’s even harder because I can’t really pinpoint exactly what this book did wrong. The structure was pretty similar to that of Kiss Me, Judas. From page one, to the end; almost every main character is on some sort of drug or mood-altering substance. I’m not sure why but after reading Penny Dreadful, it was hard to go back to what KMJ (Kiss Me, Judas – for those not following along) was like in terms of overall narrative. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I had any problems following along Baer’s twisted neo-noir fantasy – I just didn’t enjoy it as much this time around.

Poe’s main antagonist this time, aside from Jude’s twisted psyche, is John Ransom Miller, a wealthy lawyer. Miller agrees to provide Jude with Senator MacDonald Cody, one whom she completed a hand amputation on a few years back while living in Mexico. Cody spots Jude somewhere in California and immediately sets out to have her destroyed – it’s basically a “you can’t get me if I get you first” kind of thing. The only thing that Miller wants in return is her participation (and a few others) in the creation of a snuff film. A snuff film in which the victim’s identity will not be revealed until the murder occurs.

Miller is just too out there. His character is so all over the place that it made me crazy. While I understood Poe’s reasons for cooperating, it gets to a certain point where it no longer made sense to me. It gets so complicated, so insanely twisted, that I was just annoyed. I can appreciate some of the moral dilemas..but these characters are all completely out of their minds. By who they are and how they came into this situation, none of them should even be aware of any moral obligation they hold to anyone.

The only character I really felt anything for other than Poe, was Molly. Molly was one of the actresses hired for the snuff film, which may or may not be Miller’s present girlfriend. She really didn’t have any interests in most of the insanity other than trying to create a memorable performance. The scenes in which she connects with Poe were well done and had me rooting for the two to get together – however, I think it’s more so because Jude enraged me 99% of the time.

Baer really missed this one for me. It was necessary for him to continue the story for Jude, with her absence from the 2nd novel but he made me hate her so much that the ending just fell flat.

** On another note, for a book so over-the-top violent and sexually charged, I’m bothered by other trivial things. Kind of says something about what I’m used to reading.

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