Review by Sandra Ruttan

New lawyer Storm Kamaya is just setting up her practice and needs all the clients she can get. When an attractive woman asks for representation in a divorce case, Storm can’t afford to turn her down, although Storm’s instincts tell her the woman is holding things back from her.
Little does she know, the divorce case will put her on an intersect course with family she hasn’t seen in years and, ultimately, and a killer. Set in Hawaii, The Green Room seeks to introduce the reader to a new locale and culture.

Reading The Green Room, there was no doubt in my mind that the author knew her stuff about the setting. The use of Hawaiian language, folklore and surfing terms were wielded convincingly, but sometimes it was too much. This is not something I wanted to criticize, for I do appreciate works that ring with authenticity, even if not all the terms are familiar to me, but in the end I couldn’t be certain that this wasn’t the root cause of some of my other issues with the book.

There is a two-page glossary in the back of the book, which was fortunate, but there were enough terms used in the novel to fill three or four times that number of pages. The frequent use of the lingo did have me confused at some points, and I flipped back and forth. First to the glossary, only to find the term not listed, then back to see if I could find it used elsewhere. Eventually I accepted that, short of writing down every term used in the book so I could find it again, there were things I was going to have to guess at. Bear in mind, in the two pages of definitions provided, the words only start with eight different letters – a, h, k, l, m, n, p and u. It’s easy for the words to blur in your mind when you haven’t grasped the definition to begin with, and it’s another h, k or p word. I hate to say they start to all look the same, but when you don’t know how to say them or what they mean, it can happen.

Unfortunately, once something like this is pulling you out of the story a bit, it’s hard to know how much of the rest of your reading experience has been affected by it. In the flipping back and forth, it’s possible I missed some of the answers to some things, but I was perplexed by what seemed to me to be a contradiction with the main character. My understanding in the beginning was that, after almost drowning as a child in an incident which claimed the life of a family member, Storm had a fear of the water. There was reference made to physical tension her boyfriend sensed when her cousin insisted on her coming out onto the water to surf with him in the beginning. Within a few chapters we learn she owns a surf board and she goes out on the water alone.

Maybe I over-read Storm’s alleged fear, but judging from events later in the book I don’t think I did. And this is where my own personal experiences gave me a hard time with this aspect of the book. I almost drowned when I was ten. Nobody with me did drown, it was uniquely my experience. And to this day I will not swim in open waters alone.

There were a few other points about Storm that I had trouble with. After a few murders, a serious attempt on her own life that involved physical injuries and watching someone be shot, she was surprised when the killer slapped her?
Ultimately, I felt this was a book that had a solid foundation with a lot of promise as an action-adventure book with a mystery element thrown in, but I think that another edit on the book should have focused more attention to the readability of the story and some of the inconsistencies I’ve mentioned, as well as a few others I won’t, because they would involve spoilers.

I still think The Green Room would appeal to those who like adventure stories. Atkinson did a fantastic job of making me homesick for the pacific…


Sandra Ruttan’s debut suspense novel, Suspicious Circumstances, will be released in January 2007.

Praise for Suspicious Circumstances:

“A gripping adventure, a large cast of marvelous characters, and twists that follow turns. Read it. You’ll love it too.”
Robert Fate, author of Baby Shark

“Sandra Ruttan has graced the world of psychological thrillers with this fast-paced, absorbing tale, fraught with corruption, murder, mistrust, a number of unconscionable villains and two exceptionally likable protagonists, all craftily entangled in a delightfully twisted plot. Sit back and be prepared to get lost in this riveting story, because you won’t want to put it down until you’ve turned the very last page.”
JB Thompson, author of The Mozart Murders

"Suspicious Circumstances is a plot with endless twists and turns, lots of unexpected heroes and villains, and enough unanswered questions to keep you reading to the very end!"
Julia Buckley, author of The Dark Backward

“Suspicious Circumstances twists and turns and twists again, leaving the reader breathless and unsure which end is up. And that's just the beginning. Ruttan's deft touch intrigues and satisfies, making her a powerful new force in the mystery field.”
JT Ellison, author of All The Pretty Girls, MIRA 2007

“A well executed procedural with a spark between our protagonists, an excellent feel for political machinations on a small town scale and a plot that twists and turns like a bad tempered rattlesnake.”
Russel D. McLean, Crime Scene Scotland

Return to Fall 2006 Table of Contents

© 2006 SPINETINGLER Magazine - All rights reserved

Baby Love
If It Bleeds
Behind You!
No Help For The Dying
A Kind of Puritan
A Thankless Child
A Certain Malice