Friday, November 12, 2010

My take on: Sugar Tower

Ever walk by one of those fancy Manhattan high-rise buildings, and think about what it must be like to live there? It must be glamorous. You have every material possession at your fingertips. Money, cars and jewelry, it must be nice to live there. Or is it?

What if no one likes you? Your mere presence strikes fear in your employees and neighbors. You constantly get into fights over the smallest things. Your own family is emotionally detached from you. Your husband gives you everything, most importantly his love, but that's not enough. You don't even like yourself, and material possessions aren't enough so you turn to drugs. Anything to mask the real you. The person I speak of is Anabel Trainor Sugarman, a character who is murdered in the opening pages of Sugar Tower by Jessica Dee Rohm.

Anabel seems to have it all, beauty, youth, money and power, and a much older husband, Barry Sugarman. Barry is the owner of Sugar Tower, a ritzy new building trying to stand out amidst the real estate crash. Anabel's suspicious death goes unsolved for a year, which doesn't sit right with real estate reporter Marchesa "Mach" Jesus Piazza. Mach is drowning on a flat beat. What's to report? Everyone is losing their homes?  Revisiting the Sugarman case could be her ticket to more in-depth reporting. After all, journalism isn't what it used to be.

"Journalism isn't about truth anymore; it's mostly about sensationalism, finding a way to enliven a jaded public, reverse its immunity to the time-worn horrors human beings subject other human beings to."

As a newspaper copy editor, I have to agree. Real journalism is a dying breed. The real news gets buried because the new starlet on the scene got sentenced to rehab.

The cast of characters in Sugar Tower are an eccentric and funny bunch. A drug-dealing couple, one of whom gets into a drag-out fight with Anabel over a dog. A front desk clerk who speaks in rhyme. A dog walker with a no-nonsense attitude. And of course real estate mogul Barry Sugarman.

Bary is a person Mach can't quite figure out. He can be kind and thoughtful one moment, and then cold the next. To get insight on the marriage and Anabel herself, Mach gets close to Sugarman. This is where I have a little problem with Mach's character. Most reporters want to get the story, that is the task at the end of the day. But, in my opinion, Mach crosses ethical boundaries. Dinners and lunches with potential suspects are borderline. But how many investigative reporters spend Thanksgiving with them too, in their home?

Ethical boundaries aside, I enjoyed the story. Each chapter you get a clue into Anabel's life and Mach's as well. The murder and method are...um...unique. I won't say what it is, but it's a first for me. Reading the book, you feel sorry for the murderer. How often does that happen? I was hoping it wasn't this person. It has to be someone else. What drives a person to that point? But if you can empathize with the murderer, that's the mark of a good writer. Sugar Tower is very timely and believable, check it out!

Rating: Superb

Notes: Check the links at the top of page for my giveaway and upcoming feature. I received a copy of the novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. For more information on author Jessica Dee Rohm, visit: http://jessicadeerohm.com/

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