Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Four Corners of the Sky - Michael Malone

Four Corners of the Sky introduces us to Annie Peregrine. She travelled the country with her father Jack until she was seven. Jack then left her at his boyhood home with his sister Sam, promising to return for her. He never did. Annie is twenty six and a Navy pilot when her con artist father finally contacts her, saying that he is dying and needs her to bring the plane he left at the homestead to him in St. Louis. Annie reluctantly agrees, but only if Jack gives her the one thing she doesn't have - the name of her mother.

Annie has been raised by her Aunt Sam and Sam's lifelong friend Clark, whom she comes to call uncle. These two become Annie's parents and devote their lives to her.

"So Sam and I just get to hang around here waiting?" She laughed. "That's what parents do."

Sam runs a video rental store and is obsessed with old movies.

"..movies showed people how to live their lives with a great score and the boring parts cut out. In movies you could be braver and luckier than in your real life. And better looking."

Another family friend, D.K. teaches her to fly. Annie has excelled in everything in her life, except for her marriage to Brad, another pilot.

Annie does head to St. Louis with the plane to see her father. At this point in the story, I thought this would be an interesting character driven relationship novel. I was intrigued by the premise and curious to see the meeting of the two. However the story is much more than that. Jack has hidden a priceless gold, jewel encrusted statue. He now needs to get the statue back to give to a mobster to pay off debts. Because Cuba is claiming the statue, the FBI is involved. Local police as well.

Sound complicated? I felt like I was reading two good stories that had been smooshed (yes I realize that's not a literate term) together. I would have enjoyed either one on it's own, but felt that the crazy search for the statue as a vehicle to repair the relationship was too over the top.

I did enjoy the supporting characters but in some ways felt they were too much of a caricature. Aunt Sam is a lesbian, Uncle Clark a lonely shy doctor, DK is a wheelchair bound black veteran. Best friend Georgette is very smart, but can't meet the right man. Husband Brad is a womanizer. Jack's best friend is a Cuban ex-con who philosophizes in almost every piece of dialogue he is given.

Although they play a part in the plot, I quickly grew tired of numerous movie references and quotes. Some stuff was just too cute for me and by the third time is growing old. Peregrine for a last name for a pilot. Singing Annie P. Goode to the tune of Chuck Berry's song.

I truly enjoyed the character of Jack. He has lived his life with no apologies and few regrets. I would have enjoyed having him fleshed out a bit more. I never did connect with Annie. I can't even really tell you why. She just never resonated with me.

I kept reading as I was really curious as to the outcome of the search for the statue. I was sure I had reached the end a number of times, but there seemed to be just one more chapter. The Four Corners of the Sky is 560 pages long - about 100 too many.

Michael Malone is a veteran author, having won an Edgar, an O.Henry and an Emmy (as head writer for the soap opera One Life to Live '91-'96). Sadly, this latest novel from Sourcebooks just didn't get off the ground with me.

I'll add some links to what I am sure will be differing opinions from other bloggers.

The Review From Here.
Becky at My Thoughts, Your Thoughts
Tricia at Library Queue
Grace's Book Blog
Sandie at Booksie's Blog
Books Are My Only Friends
Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like the book tried to tackle too much. Thanks for the review.

Anna said...

I agree that there's a lot going on in this book. Overall, I liked it, though. I thought the story and the characters were interesting. I could have been a lot shorter, though.

Diary of an Eccentric

Darlene said...

Sorry this one didn't quite measure up for you. That's a lot of pages when a book doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I had wanted to read this one but was too late. I'll have to read the other reviews and see what they thought.

Tricia said...

I totally agree with your assessment. Thanks for linking me. I've added you too!

Michele said...

Your review has come closest to how I felt about this book - very nice review!

cindysloveofbooks said...

Luanne, there was alot going on and for once this was a book that took me a week to read. I only really started to enjoy it when I was on my last 1/4 of the book.

Great review. Do you mind if I link my review to yours when I post it?

Luanne said...

No problem Cindy - let me know when yours is up and I'll add it to my post as well.

Michele and Tricia. - I'm glad to hear someone else thought the same thing!

Anna and Dar - there are mixed reviews on this one. Which is why I wanted to link to and present differing viewpoints.

Alyce said...

I agree that the book is too long. I thought there was too much going on in the book, and some of the cutesy stuff annoyed me too (like the puns).

Anya said...

I came away convinced that Clark was Annie's father...Ruthie swore she had never slept with Jack and mourned Clark's leaving her and re-enlisting. Did anyone else get this connection? Were we intentionally left to wonder?

Lacey said...

I thought the exact same thing about Clark being Annie' real father. I am so disappointed that this wasn't clarified! I re-read the conversation with Ruthie at least five times and she said they were never lovers, going on to say that Jack tracked her down in Barbados. I'm convinced Clark is her father, and I wonder if Annie didn't figure it out when she said Georgette would be surprised if she did any more tests on Clark. I'm so sad that Clark and Annie didn't have a conversation about this in the book. I've just finished it only five minutes ago and immediately started searching for the answer. It was a great story, but I found the writing to be a little elementary. I agree that the characters were cliche. The plotline about the con was great- the other intertwining plots were difficult to sort through at times. So, at the end the question of Annie's father being open-ended is a bit frustrating!