Playing Hangman

Playing Hangman - Barbara Kent Belroy I'm kind of torn on this one. I found Peyton, the main character to be really, really annoying, but I loved Justin, the main romantic interest. The writing style became amazing at the end, but at the beginning it was extremely clumsy. There were just parts where it felt like the author was rambling (through Peyton) about the things she found annoying. Yes, daylight savings time is inconvenient and annoying, but to add Peyton's complaint about it; ""I'd forgotten how early it got dark after the fall time change. Which was another issue. Why did they change time back and forth? Who could ever remember , was it spring ahead or spring forward, or fall back or whatever. So frustrating." If the crossed out part had been eliminated, the book would have benefitted. A lot. This wasn't the only awkward sentence in the book, and it was extremely frustrating. This is not the first time I've read a book and been frustrated because I can see how good the author could be with more practice and editing, underneath something that shows how bad it could've been. And then there is this part "Dr. Smolenski scanned the faces in the audience and then greeted us. She had this super calming voice, kind of like those announcers on classical stations who always sound like they're whispering something secretive about Bach's first symphony or whatever." I suppose not all classical music announcers are the same, but I have never heard a radio announcer speak like that, and I mostly listen to only classical music. I guess I got a little bit defensive trying to work out if classical music (and classical musicians/fans) was being insulted.

So...besides the alternating awkward/incredible writing what was in the book? I mentioned that Peyton was rather unlikeable, with her random, rambling teenager talk (she said she has incredible grammar, yet uses the word 'like' every other sentence, and basically talks like a normal teenager. An annoying normal teenager.) She keeps leading Tyler, her current boyfriend on because he's having a hard time with college and money and she doesn't want to upset him further by breaking up with him, but what if he'd never gotten over it? Would she have kept going out with the jealous, controlling jerk? Would she have married him? It's not being fair to herself to keep dating someone who she doesn't see herself having a life with, and Tyler seemed like the kind of person who could possibly become abusive (honestly, he reminded me of the Tyler in [b: Catholic Reluctantly|3059254|Catholic, Reluctantly John Paul 2 High School - Book 1|Christian M. Frank||3090156], who is not a boyfriend character, at all.) Peyton ends up hurting the boy who really cares about her, and who she cares about as well, because she is trying to appease her selfish boyfriend. It's very frustrating. Sometimes the words that Peyton uses makes me think that she judges people by how cute they are. I really liked Justin, so when Peyton just kept going on about how cute or hot he was without mentioning how kind and considerate he was, I started to get annoyed.

I'm sorry to say that I guessed whodunit before the guilty man was revealed. I had three suspects, pretty early on in the book. Tyler was my first suspect. As the jealous jerk of a boyfriend who wanted the scholarship that two of the victims had received. He was obviously intended to be the first suspect, and for that reason, in spite of the fact that it really did look like him, I knew that it could not be him. In a mystery, the author has to give us a killer who we know, but have not guessed, and she was trying so hard to make Tyler look guilty that he was completely ruled out. Even so, given all of Tyler's possible motives, I found it rather frustrating that whenever she thought of him, Peyton would keep reassuring herself that he couldn't be a murderer. It made her look stupid. And the author forgot to give us an explanation of where Tyler went that night when Peyton saw him driving by, and why he lied to her. The next suspect was the temperamental, emotional, and apparently scary (according to his own daughter) soccer coach of the rival team. But we only ever met him (through Peyton) once, and Peyton actually speculated him to her friend Cady, so there was no way it was him either.

Then there was the last suspect. The one who really was guilty. (spoiler alert if you clicked the view spoiler button, but haven't read the book, this is your last warning.) I don't know quite what it was, but there was something about him going through Tyler's trash that made me suspect Bill. I truly don't know what gave him away, but because he wasn't being thrown in our face as a suspect, but was really the only other character that we knew well enough that he could be a suspect, but not so well that readers would rebel against the idea of him being a killer. And I guessed half of his motive as well. The two clues that gave him away was his meticulous dressing, something I didn't pay attention to while reading his introduction, but apparently remembered subconsciously when we learned about the twenty-years ago suicide victim. And Bill said that his wife was dead and he had no children. It would be easy to quietly add 'no living children' if he had issues telling that lie. And when we learned about Robert Williams Jr. and just two pages later ran into Bill again. First name or last name I don't know, but somehow I made the connection, so I had even guessed that Bill's son was the twenty-years ago suicide victim and that was why he was killing people in the same way that his son had killed himself. I thought that it might have been to try and make suicide look normal, to try to assuage himself of his guilt in his part in his son's death, so at least I was surprised about something when Bill made his confession, and really, it does make much more sense that he wanted to get revenge on the people who had teased his son, that Robert Williams Jr. cited in his note, as his reason for suicide. But it was still very sad that Bill refused to acknowledge the part he played in his son's death. I also would have found it more believable that Bill was able to hang his victims without leaving signs of a struggle, then it was to believe that he pumped his victims full of date-rape drugs, the drugs weren't discovered in the autopsies.

One more subject I want to go over before I un-spoiler this section.

I was actually really pissed when I thought that Justin had died. You have to be really, really careful about killing of character's love interests. Sometimes if it's done well, it can make the character grow a lot, and make you really feel for the character. I was really upset when Graham died in the Once Upon a Time TV show, but once we met Henry's father, I decided I was willing to let it go. Then when Neal died I was upset, but I could see that Emma was growing as a character after losing him. I felt that Justin's death was not being handled well. Peyton spent a lot of time not letting herself think about him because she didn't want to cry, a bit of time trying to figure out who had murdered him, and the rest of the time in denial. Her denial did end up being correct as Justin was (thankfully) still alive, but it doesn't erase the time I spent being really angry that Justin had "died".

I started to like Peyton better as the author's writing improved, so it was mostly the lack of editing that made me dislike the character, though Peyton did experience some character growth that also helped improve my opinion of her. Don't get me wrong, even though she had some extremely awkward sentences, when those weren't occurring, Basia Kent Belroy seemed to have a very good writing style that made it difficult to put down the book (even though it was an ebook and I prefer paper books.)

I was close to giving this book three stars, but I did really like it, even if I was a bit disappointed that I guessed the mystery, so four stars it gets. I don't know if I want a whole second book, but I wouldn't mind learning what happened to the characters after the story ended.