“Dating a Chance” is a—extremely—literary work of mystery. Simply, the story is about the seemingly freakish deaths of a prominent scientist and a few people close to him shortly thereafter. J-L (yes, that is his name) was working on manipulating particles at a quantum level in order to create positive outcomes. Essentially: fabricating good luck and fortune (kind of Like the X-Force team member Domino). But his untimely death leaves the research almost lost, and while some of J-L’s colleagues begin hunting for his missing notes, others begin wondering if his random death was all that accidental, as those close to J-L also begin dying under mysterious circumstances as well. Professor Brown and his chess partner Steve begin the hunt for the truth in what is a high-brow and unique twist on a murder mystery novel. However, this interesting premise was often lost in the authors’ narration.
Let me start by saying that I was very intrigued by this book when I first got it. The concept is interesting (I was expecting a kind of Sherlock Holmes feel in terms of literary narration) and the twist it takes is one I haven’t really encountered before, and I’m all for that. Additionally, the author is clearly very smart, the amount of scientific research that was done in order to craft characters that are believable geniuses in their field shows a level of dedication to the novel that not all authors do, but I greatly appreciate. The author also has quite the way with words, her literary prose is beautiful and often clever if you can catch on to the subtle nuances. If you really love lengthy descriptive narrations, this is a great work to reference, as the author does that incredibly well. But, unfortunately, that’s where the book fell apart for me personally.
This is supposed to be a murder mystery novel, but often the narrative went on these long (sometimes pages in length) descriptions and random tangents of things that were, ultimately, inconsequential to the plot at hand. There was so much back story that was meant to be clever—and it is, like I’ve mentioned, all beautifully written—but it meant that reading became rather difficult and my interest was often wavering, wondering when we would get back to the central plot of the book. This was not the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle vibe I was hoping for. This meant I skimmed a lot, and I hate skimming because I don’t like feeling as if I might have missed something. Ultimately, I didn’t because the characters tended to reiterate the events of chapters passed, so nothing was lost when I tried to get to a place where I felt a sense of tension looming. Often, I felt like I was reading a classic play as the characters dialogue came across as if they were giving a monologue to an audience in order to keep everyone up to speed. A mystery that could have been incredibly interesting lost all tension for me between the dialogue and the unnecessary purple prose narration throughout the entire book.
If you like just beautifully written books with strong science flavoring, this is a great case study. But if you want a thrilling murder mystery, this probably isn’t the story for you. Like I said, the premise held so much potential that the sheer difficulty I had getting through this and the odd character dialogue made me disappointed, because I wanted to really like the story! But, for as much time and research the author clearly put into her work, the overly literary nature—that often felt forced to me—made this book drag along all too frequently. Nothing would have been lost by cutting down on the lengthy narrative descriptions, and in fact, it probably would have kept my attention more than the final product did. Even with the unique premise—the author can tell a beautiful tale if you like this kind of style—it wasn’t enough to save this story for me. So I’m giving this 2.5 stars as it was just too hard to get through. That isn’t to say the author isn’t a talented writer, for she is, this just wasn’t the book for me—or was expecting. But thanks to the author for providing me with a copy for review!
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