Thursday, May 06, 2010

Review: The Killing of Mindi Quintana by Jeffrey A. Cohen

She giggled.
He hated her. [ excerpt from The Killing of Mindi Quintana]

The Killing of Mindi Quintana by Jeffrey A. Cohen
Welcome Rain Publisher, 2010
Crime Fiction; 256 pgs

Not everyone likes to read the synopsis of a book before reading the book; you know, the one that falls on the back cover or inside flap of a book. I am not among those. I often base my decision to read a book on the synopsis, determining whether it sounds like something I might be interested in reading or not. Favorite authors, of course, are an exception sometimes. Occasionally I read a synopsis and it turns out to be misleading, but that isn't often. I can only remember one occasion when the synopsis on the inside flap of the cover gave too much away. The reason I bring this up now is because I am undecided about the synopsis provided for The Killing of Mindi Quintana. It isn't misleading, not really, but it does border on giving too much away. And yet, I can also see why offering so much of the plot to perspective readers might be necessary too.

As a result, I am having a difficult time settling on how to summarize this book without spoiling anything. It is about a man, Freddy Builder, the manager of the China department at a department store. His life is rather dull, or so he believes. He dreams of being a writer and being famous. He is just biding his time, making spectacular China displays until opportunity comes knocking at his door. The novel is also about a young beautiful woman, Mindi Quintana, with a big heart and gentle manner who is editor for a literary magazine and once dated Freddy. Freddy's world changes when she walks back into his life. There is Mindi's best friend, the painter, and a defense attorney whose just going through the motions of life, feeling numb. And there is an ambitious prosecutor and a corporate manager who is a bit full of himself. They all are set on a collision course the day Mindi and Freddy meet again. Then there is a murder.

The Killing of Mindi Quintana is an experience all of its own. It is not your usual crime fiction novel. Author Jeffrey A. Cohen's characters seem more like caricatures than fully realized people (except perhaps defense attorney Philip), which, I believe, is the effect he was aiming for. The story itself was satirical. And it worked.

The novel takes a hard look at the notoriety and sensationalism of our society's criminals and their crimes, about how the justice system plays into that and where the victims stand as a result. Freddy seems like your every day sort of man. Stuck in a job he doesn't like, dreaming of bigger things, a man in love, a man done wrong. Freddy, however, is not quite what he seems. He is the epitome of a psychopath.

I liked the way the author wove art into his novel: Freddy's China displays, Mindi's appreciation of words and Lisa's paintings. It seemed a fitting juxtaposition to the crime itself, or, rather, more directly to the aftermath. It also tied into the abstract feel of the novel.

I enjoyed the book overall, finding it both entertaining and thought provoking, and I appreciate what the author set out to accomplish. However, at times I was not completely satisfied with the approach. I think that was more a me issue than the author's. I found the ending quite satisfying and fitting with the rest of the tale. It wasn't an ending I expected, and yet I can't see it ending any other way.

Rating: * (Good)

You can learn more about Jeffrey A. Cohen and his book on the author's website. Be sure and check the TLC Book Tours website as well.

Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. Book for review provided by the author.

Be sure and stop by the other Tour Stops for The Killing of Mindi Quintana:

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Sounds like a story with great characterisation and interesting plot to me! Thanks for the review, Wendy! :)

  2. Hmmm...I do love an atypical crime thriller. There are so many that all seem the same to me. But I think I may have to hear a little more about this one before I'd read it. Nice review!

  3. Well, you've got me curious about the murder now!

  4. I am of two minds about reading the synopsis on the back of the book. At times I really like to go in knowing almost nothing but the bare basics, but at others, I need to try to squeeze out as much as I can beforehand. Most of the time I read the back cover just after I turn the last page in order to see hoe accurate the summary was. That being said, it seems like you had mixed feelings for this book due to it's execution. I'm sorry to hear that certain aspects of the story were disappointing to you. Hopefully your next read will be more fulfilling to you!

  5. Melody & Kathy - It was interesting--and definitely thought provoking!

    Sandy - Jen from Jen's Book Thoughts wrote a great review about this one (, which is a little more detailed.

    Zibilee - I have a little routine (which I'm just now realizing) of reading the synopsis on the back cover or inside flap right before I start reading a book. It helps me get in the right mindset for the book. I sometimes will refer back to it as I read, but not always. I'm not sure why. I'll have to do some self-analysis in that regard. :-)

    The topic of the book is so relevant today. In recent news a man who raped and killed two teen girls plead guilty to the crimes is getting quite a bit of attention--including being interviewed on TV by telephone from prison. I couldn't help but think of Cohen's book as I heard bits and pieces of the interview. It was so obvious to me that the killer was enjoying his time in the spotlight.

    I did like Cohen's book overall, but, as you said, I wasn't completely won over by the execution.

  6. Hmm, this sounds rather intriguing, and different from what I would have assumed. Thanks for the review, Wendy!

    Unless I already know quite a bit about a book before I pick it up, I'll always read the synopsis. I've been known to pass on books that don't have them on the covers or flaps (just blurbs). I'm not spoiler-phobic :-). But more importantly, I need to be able to make an informed decision as to whether I want to read it, and I need know something about the book to do that.

  7. I always read the synopsis to see if I'm going to want to read the book. Well, I did, anyway, before blogging. Now I read the reviewers synopsis to see if I'm interested and I've found they are much less likely to give things away.

  8. Sounds interesting -- I'm waiting to read this one until next week.

  9. Oh, yeah, another one I'm going to have to download. Every time I visit here, that happens!

    I know what you mean about the synopsis. Most of the time it's fine, but a couple times I've been totally misdirected. I always read them, though.

  10. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it - I just found out I'm getting a review copy!

  11. Florinda - It wasn't quite what I expected and for that I'm glad,even if I didn't quite love the book.

    I'm the same way, preferring to make an informed decision before agreeing to read a book. Like you, I've passed some up because I couldn't tell without a synopsis.

    Lisa (Lit & Life) - I've also found that blogger synopses can be more helpful in terms of telling me more accurately what a book is about as well.

    Beth - I'll be over shortly to read your thoughts on this one. :-)

    Linda - Haha! Book blogs are dangerous that way. :-)

    Lisa (Minds Alive on Shelves - I can't wait to read your thoughts on this one, Lisa.


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