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Amber's Thoughts

Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series



Thriller on the Border

There’s a lot to like about this book. The setting comes to life—Tucson, the Tohono O’odam reservation, Nogales, and the Sonoran desert. Shane knows the world she writes about, in Arizona, Mexico and also China. The realistic diversity of characters appealed to me, and the complexity of the plot was fascinating, integrating current issues into the story with compassion, not politics. There’s a good balance of romance, action, and detective work. I cared about the characters and the outcome of the story. I’m curious about the future for Letty and for Zhou—and yet I don’t know if I’ll read the rest of the series. If I could be assured that a better editor worked on the subsequent books, I might read them.


I struggle when I write reviews like this, in which I want to give the author a high rating and give the editor a low one. The author has many strengths—research, characters, plot, originality—and deserves a more conscientious editor. Proofreading for typos and grammar was done well, but that’s not editing.


The editor could have served the author better by doing the following:


Asking for revisions on backstory. Shane handles Letty’s backstory well, inserting it naturally with a line or two here and there as the story progresses, giving no more than needed. However, other major characters, even the dog, arrive with large blocks of introductory biographical information told in narration. Most of this could have been cut since they eventually share their stories in dialogue (or people tell the dog’s story). Readers don’t have to know everything about a character up front to empathize with them. In fact, knowing only a little at first makes readers curious.


Giving more attention to dialogue. I’m sure it was challenging for the author, going back and forth between characters who grew up speaking English and those for whom it’s a second language. She does well with the second-language characters, but sometimes the native English speakers fall into a pattern of short, stiff sentences and don’t use contractions. The editor should have made sure those gears shifted more smoothly.


Correcting and cutting repetition. Not only repetition of backstory, but of plot information shared by characters, and of the same distinctive word twice in the same paragraph, and of the same sentence structure used too often back to back. In a fast-paced book, things like this break the story’s stride. And that’s frustrating, because this book tells a great story.


Author: four stars.

Editor: Two stars.

Average: three.