01 February 2012

Come in and Cover Me by Gin Phillips

Flap Copy from ARC: When Ren was only twelve years old, she lost her older brother, Scott, to a car accident. But Scott has never left her. Since then, he has been a presence in her life, appearing with a snatch of a song or a reflection in the moonlight. Now, twenty-five years later, her talent for connecting with the ghosts around her has made her especially sensitive in her career as an archaeologist. More than just understanding the bare outline of how our ancestors lived, Ren is dedicated to re-creating lives and stories, to breathing life back into those who occupied this world long before us. As she stands on the brink of the most important discovery of her career, it is ghosts who are guiding her way. But what do two long-dead Mimbres women have to tell Ren about herself? And what message do they have about her developing relationship with a fellow archaeologist, the first man to really know her since her brother's death?"

This novel is part love story, part history, part ghost story, and part archaeological tale - and it sort of fails to be very good at any of them. The main character Ren is closed off and definitely more comfortable with ghosts and the past than with her life at present. Her brother Scott, who died when she was 12, visits her as a ghost and so now she sees other ghosts too, ghosts who help her in her archaeological digs. After a stunning find years before, Ren is now on the hunt for one artist of ceramic Mimbres bowls.

It seems like the book is decently well researched, but the characters themselves are flat, their story is incomplete and their dialogue is often so stilted, so cliched, that I often found it difficult to continue reading. The author tries too hard to create 'mood' or to imply emotions through her words, but does too much telling vs showing. As a reader, I felt like there was no chance to draw my own conclusions from the narrative; rather than telling me the air is charged with sexual tension, create chemistry between characters and make me feel the tension.

Quite frankly, the whole romance subplot just felt contrived. I was never convinced that Ren was capable of true feelings about anything- she seems to have abandoned ship when her brother died (even though they were never close) and she's estranged from her mother, so her closest relationships are with the dead people who stalk her at dig sites.

All in all, I was disappointed with this book, which had the elements of a good story but never really came together into an enjoyable read.