Foreword Reviews

The Consultant in Sea Isle City

Clarion Rating: 2 out of 5

In the small town thriller The Consultant of Sea Isle City, a woman leaves the city, looking for transformation, but her new lifestyle is hindered by conniving neighbors and local corruption.

In LB Robbins’s novella-length thriller The Consultant of Sea Isle City, a woman creates a new life for herself while solving crimes.

When Terry buys a rundown house in New Jersey, she quits her high-powered programming job in New York City. Her impulsive decisions lead to the end of her relationship with her fiancé, Stephen. Terry begins living an entirely new life, complete with difficult neighbors and job searching.

The small town where Terry settles is atmospheric. Its slow pace and rampant gossip are depicted with clarity. There’s a sense that Terry is coming coming home to Sea Isle City and her house, where she feels increasing contentment. But Terry’s new life is not purely idyllic. She is surrounded by mysteries and schemers, and trouble is hinted at early on.

Though Terry narrates most of the book, she’s an amorphous lead. There are flashes of her personality, and she evinces a keen sense of irony at points. Still, she oscillates between expressing her sense of humor and taking circumstances quite seriously. And the beginning and ending of the text step away from Terry to focus on secondary characters; these broader perspectives are jarring, muddling the book’s tone on the whole.

When the foreshadowed dark events finally materialize, it’s anticlimactic: Terry calls them “diabolical” and “evil,” but the impression they leave is much less gruesome than expected. The book’s final twist is its primary source of shock; it is not foreshadowed, and it is at odds with the rest of the tale, especially in terms of its darkness.

Indeed, there are too many story lines in the novella for any of them to be fully realized. Though the book covers Terry’s growing love for her new house in a compelling manner, her newfound spirituality and her job search are addressed in underwhelming terms; most such plot points are dealt with in a matter of paragraphs. Further, misspellings, misused words, and lengthy and convoluted sentences interrupt the story’s flow. Stephen’s name is inconsistently spelled; toward the end, Terry is referred to as “Freddy” without explanation.

In the small town thriller The Consultant of Sea Isle City, a woman leaves the city, looking for transformation, but her new lifestyle is hindered by conniving neighbors and local corruption.

Reviewed by Carolina Ciucci

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the publisher will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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