three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
17-July-Aug-2005
By: 
Jodi Compton
user_rating: 
0

A-SympathyBetweenHumansIn Compton’s debut novel, The 37th Hour (2003), the courts freed a rapist and murderer on a technicality—and then the killer himself wals murdered. The rape victim’s mother—who worked with Sarah Pribek, a Minneapolis-based missing persons detective—exiled herself to Europe. In this sequel, Sarah is under suspicion for the rapist’s murder while her husband does time in jail for a related crime. To make matters worse, her other two cases cloud the line between law and justice. One involves a teenage girl’s missing twin brother, the other a paraplegic doctor without a license. Sarah’s investigation raises questions about her own memories, actions, and the limits of the law.
Delacorte. 372 pages. $22. ISBN: 0385337140

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Part of the joy of picking up a book by Compton is discovering that her stories are more complex than the usual run-of-the-mill thrillers and mysteries crowding bookstore shelves. The plots delve into the moral implications of a detective so empathetic that she often crosses ethical lines in order to do the right thing." Dorman T. Shindler

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"One of the things I like most about Compton’s stories is their size—not the number of pages between the covers, but the scope of the events …. Real people. Small stories that become incredibly compelling and will propel readers through the pages without pause." Jean Heller

South FL Sun-Sentinel 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Sympathy Between Humans is an emotionally charged story, as full of character studies as a briskly moving plot .… Compton’s penchant for sharply realized characters and believable situations elevates her burgeoning series." Oline H. Cogdill

Detroit Free Press 2 of 5 Stars
"Sarah’s not a bad detective, just a morally challenged one. … For an ending that feels complete, readers will need to stick around to see if Sarah can take charge of her life. But whether it’s worth waiting for is another question." Ron Bernas

Critical Summary

Compton’s second police procedural reintroduces the emotionally unstable Sarah Pribek and advances the storyline from The 37th Hour. Once again, Compton delivers a compelling plot and fully-realized characters with convincing problems of the mind and heart—as one character notes, "the mathematics of the human psyche." Disarmingly complex, the novel asks tough questions about law and morality; Sarah, for better or for worse, takes matters into her own hands when the law does not deliver justice. Only the Detroit Free Press cited an unbelievable missing child case and challenged the idea that permeates the novel—that breaking the law is bad only if the intentions are, too. Loose ends may bother some readers, but there will be more to come from this intelligent author and her protagonist.