Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review of "A Winter Kill" [42]

A Winter Kill by Vicki Delany
Raven Books, ISBN 978-1554699568
April 1, 2012, 128 pages

Rookie police constable Nicole Patterson has only been on the job for about 6 months and most of the crime in the rural area outside Toronto where she works is predictable. Petty theft, bar fights, domestic disputes. But murder is another matter.

On patrol, she finds the body of a young woman in the snow, strangled to death by her scarf. She turns out to be a local high school student, known by sight to Patterson, who is a local girl, returned home after college. And while Patterson is far from being a detective who would investigate a crime like this, her local knowledge may prove invaluable..especially after it is found the murdered girl was four months pregnant.

This is a nice little read, with a good plot, an interesting main character in Patterson and well written. Well enough written that I will be investigating other books by Delany, including her Klondike Mystery series, her Constable Molly Smith series and a number of standalones. But the key to this book is little, weighing in at just over 100 pages, and a big fonted, small 100 pages at that. Actually this is much more a short story than a novel. But with this series, Orca/Raven's Rapid Reads, that is the point.
Orca Book Publishers is excited to introduce Rapid Reads, a line of short novels and non-fiction books for adult readers. In our increasingly fast-paced world we believe there is a need for well-written, well-told books that can be read in one sitting. Rapid Reads are intended for a diverse audience, including ESL students, reluctant readers, adults who struggle with literacy and anyone who wants an high-interest quick read.

Rapid Reads focus first and foremost on strong writing and storytelling. We are committed to providing books that will help adults achieve their literacy goals in an interesting and accessible way. Each novel in the Rapid Reads series is written between a 2.0 and 4.5 reading level. The plots are contemporary and entertaining, with adult language and themes.

Personally, I think it is a great idea. The story, the language, makes it a book for adults. There are topics introduced in this short volume, like teen pregnancy, growing up in a dysfunctional home, what a hostile place high school can be, that adults will find interesting. And it is really remarkable that it can be done so well it what is really just a short story.

Yet for someone who has literacy issues, someone that does not have English as their first language, as the publisher says "reluctant readers", this series of about 20 books, by a variety of authors, might be just the thing. The writing style is simple and direct, yet not obviously so. It might get those potential readers started in the idea of actually enjoying reading books and give a real sense of accomplishment at finishing a book. The fact that they are reading real books, with adult stories, not books written for kids, would make a huge difference. I am a big fan of the idea.

That being said, I have one major issue with this book.
The price.
At $9.95 for such a short, little paperback, I really think that is outrageous and can not but work to discourage the target audience.
Which is a great shame.
Still, an entertaining book, in a series based on a good idea.

My thanks to Amazon Vine with providing me with an Advanced Reading Copy of this book.


  1. Oh, this series does sound like a great idea, but I do understand your reservations with the price. Still, I'm glad it was a good read; I may have to recommend this series to people I know who don't read much, but want to get int it.

  2. Short books like that are a good idea but I agree with you that ten bucks is kind of steep for one.

  3. I have recently discovered Vicki Delaney but was not aware of these book(lette)s. I must say I have the same reaction to that outrageous price for such a small tome aimed at non-readers. They're not going to convince anyone who doesn't already read a lot to fork out $10 for a teensy read. NO WAY.

    I really wish publishers and booksellers (Can you say AMAZON?) would start thinking their business models through to the end user and not just the bottom dollar. Rant over.

    1. I think you can save a dollar on the Kindle edition. wow, only $9 to get to download a file!

  4. rapid reads .. for those with a short attention span


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