#BookReview – LOLA by Melissa Scrivner Love – A Crime Novel

An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman who combines the genius and ferocity of Lisbeth Salander with the ruthless ambition of Walter White

The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia . . . but what no one has figured out is that the gang’s real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia’s girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man’s world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter–and in many ways tougher and more ruthless–than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.

Lola marks the debut of a hugely exciting new thriller writer, and of a singular, magnificent character unlike anyone else in fiction.

Release Date: March 21, 2017

Amazon / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

 

My Review

With Lola, the author takes us inside the life of a small, inner city gang, with the unique twist of having a woman as boss. I enjoyed the story, and it held my interest all the way through, but there were some problem areas for me.

Starting with the good stuff: Lola is an intriguing character with many elements to her personality. She’s tough and strong, merciless at times, but she also has unexpected emotional depth and vulnerability.

The question that keeps her up most nights is why she and Hector aren’t languishing in alleys with needles in their arms.

The plot is mostly a crime story, with drugs and cash at its center. We go along with Lola as she attempts to unravel the mess she’s gotten herself into. The pacing is steady, keeping us engaged as the plot unwinds. I wasn’t all that surprised by the big twist, but I liked the way it all fell into place.

I was mostly taken with the way this story makes us look at the struggles of inner city life for minorities. We see the bravado necessary to survive life on the streets when no one, family or society, is helping to hold you up and keep you safe.

Instead of minimum sentences at white-collar resorts, people here get bullets to the head, either victims of circumstances or mere collateral damage.

Now the not so good stuff: The characters, aside from Lola, lack development. We only see them in the way Lola shows them to us during interactions, and often that feels superficial. Consequently, we understand little about their behavior and motivations. I wanted a deeper connection with Lola and the people in her life.

A lot of the emotional value got lost, for me, because I was being told what Lola felt more than I was being allowed to feel it with her. Given the content, this should have been a powerful, gut-wrenching story, but it wound up as more of an intellectual stimulant than an absorbing experience. This is the author’s first novel, though she does have a professional background in screenwriting. For me, this is a transitional issue the author hasn’t totally mastered yet. We needed the actors portraying her characters, giving them life and emotion.

Lola grew up too fast in this kitchen, this house, and no matter how much industrial-grade, lemon-scented cleaner she uses, she can’t wash off the stink and the ruin that coat it – and her.

And, finally, because I am a detail person, some things could have used a little fact-checking. I don’t want to give spoilers, so I’ll generalize. We have hospital scenes that don’t ring true. One has to do with sepsis, which is contracted and magically cured way too quickly. Another has to do with how easily Lola obtains information on a patient. Since HIPAA laws were implemented, I sometimes have a hard time getting my own information, much less details on a random patient. Yes, you can sign to allow someone else to get your medical information, but that other person would need to provide a name and ID, at the very least.

Overall, this is a good read for those who love gritty crime fiction. The book has a solid ending, while leaving the door wide open for a possible series.

*I received an advance copy from the publisher, via LibraryThing, in exchange for my honest review.*

 

Thanks for reading. 🙂