book reviews

Book Review: Caught


by Lisa Moore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

View all of my reviews

If you hunger for a fairly ordinary plot with typical characters twisted around so you can barely recognize them, read Lisa Moore’s Caught (Grove Press 2014). Dave Slaney breaks out of prison after serving four years for a pot heist-gone-bad. The cops–led by non-detective Patterson–know where he is, but let him escape, more interested in his drug contacts than getting him back into prison. Along the way to meeting his old partner, Slaney ingratiates himself into the lives of a wide variety of everyday people who ignore the fact that he’s a fugitive from justice and simply enjoy the experience of getting to know this man.

The plot has few surprises, but Moore’s atypical voice and writing style make this worth reading. First, there’s no dialogue in the entire book (it’s shared as narrative). Here’s what it sounds like:

“Oh hello, he said. He got back into the driver’s seat and felt around in his pockets for some gum and he offered Slaney a piece and Slaney said, No thanks.”

Second, there’s a tenuous relationship between past and present, whether we’re experiencing events through Slaney or Patterson. Time is constantly mixed up as though each character isn’t sure if he lives in the here and now or the past, or maybe they simply haven’t come to terms with their personal history. Then, there’s the way Moore builds her characters, as though based on whatever catches her eye at the moment:

“His sweat had a smell so singular he half loved it and was, at the same time, felled by the shame. “

“He took out one of the five plaid shirts and it was covered in cellophane and folded around a piece of cardboard, held in place with a number of straight pins [the story is set in the 1960’s].  He took the pins out and laid them on the armrest where they shivered and rolled.”

You get the feeling, be it characters or plot, it’s as much stream of consciousness as story development. This sentence–that takes an entire paragraph to unfold–gives you a sense of that:

“Life coming at them through a fire hose; jackhammering them with Technicolor everything and they both understood that the paisley pattern on Hearn’s [Slaney’s partner in crime] shirt, each gorgeous swirl vibrating a neon crimson, was a link in an infinite chain that telescoped through wormholes of time and they realized that time is simultaneously in motion and inert and the engine of it all seemed to be Hearn’s heart pulsing, calm and sure, under the paisley and they spoke about the wonder of it, and became morose and weeping because the swirling pattern was teeming with life…”

The sentence goes on for a few dozen more words. I left it more confused than enlightened.

Ultimately, the theme, though, has nothing to do with escaping from prison and getting rich. It’s about Slaney’s love for his family; his sense that what he’s doing is less about breaking the law than building relationships. Through that lens, the story makes sense.

If you read the snippets I’ve included above and are enthralled, then you’ll consider Caught to be an otherwise boring plot with typical characters made spectacular through the eyes of the author.

More atypical thrillers:

The Reckoning

The ZigZag Girl

The Forgers

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

17 thoughts on “Book Review: Caught

  1. Interesting review! Jacqui, did you know Lisa Moore hails from my corner of the world, Newfoundland? I haven’t read this book yet, but it is now in production here for a TV miniseries of six hour long episodes.
    I really enjoyed February, another of her books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…typical characters made spectacular through the eyes of the author.”
    Jacqui, this is the kind of comment that makes you such an outstanding reviewer. I love Moore’s line about the smell of sweat and think I’d really enjoy this book. Thanks for a great review of such an unusual book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was and given a choice, probably my last. The exception of course would be more literary pieces where I want to know the main character’s opinions and thoughts. I guess in this case–an escaped convict with a sketchy past–I wasn’t vested enough in his world view.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm…this sounds a tricky book – both to review and read. You’ve done a great review here, Jacqui, being fair and giving us all the options. Although I like this style in smaller doses or in obviously ‘literary’ books I wonder how well it works in a book of this genre. Not obviously catching my attention, but going back to the snippets you quoted I do become intrigued by the style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a first for me. If I’d known this was Moore’s style, I’d never have picked it from My Vine list. But, I’m glad I did because it was fascinating to see the story unfold with this approach.


  4. I have to say I’m intrigued. I tend to prefer strong dialogue so I can truly get to know a character, but if the author has a knack of bringing the characters to life without it, I might have to give it a go🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Moore does bring the characters to life through setting, actions, interior monologue. It’s a great book to see how the non-dialogue approach works–I would have said it couldn’t work and I’d have been wrong!

      Liked by 1 person

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