the bullet by mary louise kelly

The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

Former NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly's new novel, The Bullet is a thriller. Caroline is a professor of French literature who sees a doctor for a pain in her wrist, assuming it is carpal tunnel. An MRI reveals that she has a bullet lodged in her neck, at the top of her spine. Caroline has no memory or knowledge of being shot. Her first stop for information: her parent's home to grill them for information.

The Bullet was a rather uneven experience for me. The premise was engaging, and I felt that through most of the book, Kelly maintains that level of intrigue. I didn't want to stop reading. I enjoyed the character of Caroline. There were several points in the text where she (the story is told from first person point of view) relates how a man is gaping at her or telling her how sexy she is. When this happened, I felt annoyed but then I finally realized that I thought the character was strong enough that I was almost relating to the story as if she were a real person telling her story, and that was when the sly, "Oh, yeah, I'm so sexy but I don't want to talk about it" bits annoyed me, because it felt off for a memoir (which this isn't - I just kept falling into the trap of thinking it could be). 

Which was also, I suppose, part of the reason I hesitated over the ending. I felt I knew Caroline well enough to imagine what actions she would or wouldn't take - and then she takes actions I don't imagine her doing. It felt like a jumping the shark to me. From a writer's point of view, I can sort of understand why Kelly chose these responses and actions for Caroline - it served for a wider stage and likely more drama for the novel - but it felt like a disservice to the character. 

On the whole, however, I can recommend The Bullet. Fast-paced, enjoyable and intriguing mystery that kept me up reading later than I should have!

*Advanced copy provided by Simon and Schuster