EXCERPT: Larry talked right over her. ‘I’m serious here, Cel. If ya wanna keep working with me, then ya gotta keep up. How many times do I gotta say it? You go right back to the same old defensive patterns. Look at how you’re sitting, all locked up around yourself, keeping that heart all suited up for battle, but afraid to make a move. Am I right?’
Celeste shook her head, staring down. She watched as a fat tear from each eye fell into her lap, and then she hugged herself tighter. How could he still have this much power over her? Do it, goddamn it, she yelled inside her head. Tell him!
‘I’m not -‘
‘Feel the pain,’ Pete squawked, drowning out her whispered words.
Larry wasn’t listening to her, anyway. ‘Like how you still got that ring on.’
Celeste protectively covered the engagement ring with her right hand. Jake had designed it for her before he’d even asked her to marry him – a sapphire, her birthstone, a sky blue Ceylon surrounded by diamond chips in an antique white gold setting – the most beautiful thing she’d ever owned, better than anything she’d ever imagined – though engagement rings had never been something she’d thought much about.
‘Jesus, Cel, when are you ever going to let go and move on in your life? Don’t you know it’s over with Jake? We’ve gone around and around on this. Your dreams are crystal clear, even if you refuse to believe them. Jake’s no good for you; he’s holding you back, keeping you from surrendering to the Dreamscape, to Dreamland. Let go of him. The choice is clear. You can’t keep living this double life.’ Larry shook his head, puckering his lips as if he wanted to spit. ‘Jeez, just make your mind up once and for all.’
Celeste felt her face flush red. ‘Jake’s none of your business, Larry. In fact, I’m . . . this is . . .’ She drew in her breath, trying to summon her earlier resolve, but just as she was about to get the practiced words out, Larry exploded from his chair, arms outstretched, hands waving like signals in the air. He suddenly looked like a furious dwarf out of some Grimm’s fairytale, bellowing and snorting at her as he shot out from behind his desk on his stumpy little legs.
‘No, I’m just your therapist! Are you fucking kidding me? Everything’s my business! When are you going to finally get that?’
ABOUT ‘A DREAM TO DIE FOR’: In Riverton Falls, a small New England town, globe-trotting bartender Celeste Fortune stands in her kitchen puzzling over last night’s frightening dream—a woman at a window, lilacs blowing in the breeze, someone’s hands tight around her neck. Celeste is sure the dream belongs to someone else. Perhaps she has finally broken through to the collective dreams of Dreamland cult. Hoping her therapist and cult leader will help her untangle it, she heads off into the cold November morning to her final appointment with him—or so she hopes. Her estranged fiancé has delivered an ultimatum: Leave the cult of Dreamers, or end their relationship for good.
Instead of help, however, Celeste discovers her therapist dying in a pool of blood, skull stove in by his own healing crystal. His computer, containing the intimate dreams and secrets of half the town, is gone. Suspicion immediately falls on Celeste, known to be a rebellious member of his cult. To clear her name, Celeste enlists the help of her old friend, Gloria. But when the two women discover the power of the stolen dreams, they unwittingly become the killer’s next target.
MY THOUGHTS: A Dream to Die For is much more a story about the ‘Dreamers’ cult, than it is a murder mystery, which is one of the reasons I didn’t like this. I felt very much like tossing this in at the ten percent mark, but figured that it must get better. And it did, briefly. But just before the fifty percent point, I could stand it no longer, and pushed the delete option.
Where do I start explaining why I didn’t like this? The characters? They were all weird. Now I don’t mind a bit of weird. I find weird quite entertaining. But not here. Celeste had no backbone. Why would a person who is probably on minimum wage and living off her tips pay $150 an hour to talk to this therapist, Larry, simply because ‘everyone in town goes to him’? Especially when her friend Gloria, the reason she moved to Riverton Falls, has already warned her against him, as has her fiance Jake. Celeste is the sort of person who would consult her therapist, or a tarot card reader, before she blew her nose, or changed her underwear.
Larry, the therapist, is a totally unbelievable twit. The only thing about him that astounds me is how he lived so long. I don’t know why someone didn’t murder him earlier.
Jake, the fiance, has been married before to the woman who is Larry’s right hand woman in the cult. I completely understand why he broke up with Celeste. But he does behave very strangely . . .
Gloria, Celeste’s estranged friend, is an environmental lawyer, but is the only person she can think to call when she is taken into custody at the murder scene.
The supporting cast is made up of ‘Adam’, the tarot card reader in the park, and the ‘Dreamers’, Celeste’s so called friends who turn on her when they believe she murdered Larry.
And if you’re wondering who the Pete in the extract is, he’s a parrot.
How can anyone believe that if they are able to dream each other’s dreams, or all dream the same dream, it is going to elevate them to a higher plane of being? Puhlease!
I started listening with interest, which rapidly faded, peaked with Larry’s murder, then plummeted again. This read is seriously Weird.
And the murder mystery isn’t even much of a mystery. It’s pretty obvious from very early on who killed Larry, but I did check with someone else who read and enjoyed A Dream to Die For, after I had abandoned it, just to make sure.
I would like to point out that the narrator, Rachel Perry, was excellent, and certainly had nothing to do with my abandoning this book.
I am well aware that I am very much on my own with my feelings on A Dream to Die For, and that it may well be a book that you enjoy, so please check out a selection of the many positive reviews.
I: @susanzritz @ orangeskyaudio
T: #SusanZRitz #OrangeSkyAudio
#audiobook #crime #cultfiction #murdermystery
THE AUTHOR: Susan Ritz grew up in Minnesota, but she left home to become a wandering scholar; she lived, studied, and worked as a social worker in Kenya, Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia in the 1970s. She worked as a human rights lobbyist in Washington, DC, during the Carter Administration before moving to Dachau, Germany, the setting for her memoir in progress, On the Edge of Dachau. For the past thirty years she has lived with her husband and three children in Montpelier, Vermont, where she has worked as a fund raiser, events coordinator, and philanthropic advisor for a wide range of nonprofit organizations, especially those promoting economic equality for women. Writing, however, has always been her passion, and after receiving an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, she began writing for local publications, teaching creative writing to adults and high school students, and writing her first novel.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Orange Sky Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of A Dream to Die For, written by Susan Z. Ritz and narrated by Rachel Perry, for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
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