Review: Sins and Needles (The Artists Trilogy 01) by Karina Halle


Synopsis

Some children get Lego blocks and Barbie dolls to play with, some get locks and skeleton keys. And scars. Ellie Watt has never known another life – just that of con scams and stealing. Her parents, a set of almost model white trash grifters, taught her how to break and enter and cheat before she was taught to read and write and then they left her to fend for herself. Small wonder she cannot trust anybody, always ready to pull a fast one. Small wonder she lives and breathes illegal tending to dangerous. Small wonder she never stays long in one place. Small wonder she takes drugs to calm her nerves. Will it ever end?

After another not quite successful scam, involving an aggressive Ukrainian looking for a virgin bride on the Internet, Ellie flees to her home town, Palm Valley. She is broke, desperate, tired and she hopes for a fresh start; she finds poverty, an uncle with financial troubles, unwilling to take her in, and an old high school friend she once betrayed – Camden McQueen. Camden, previously a goth freak now a surprisingly hunky man with a sternum ring and great musculature, is a local tattoo artist and a musician – successful and apparently rather well-heeled. Ellie finds out that he is also still quite taken with her and she can recognize a meal ticket opportunity when it presents itself. They catch up on the latest news, date, and have sex; then Ellie decides to rob him – if somebody is keeping a safe full of money at home and showing it to people with such a reputation as hers he is begging for it, right?

The robbery proves to be one of her bigger mistakes. Camden has always understood Ellie better than anybody and seen through her clearly. Now, as he catches her red-handed, the burgling attempt properly recorded, he holds her life and future in his hands. What will he make her do?

What I liked:

I admit it – I have a thing for flawed heroines and Ellie is the right mixture of bad-ass cool and disarming vulnerability – a great character with a distinct voice and a good story to tell. Despite her many, many flaws and problems you want to give her your support and a second chance after a while because let’s face it, she is not a completely heartless b***h, not really. The fact that the narration jumps in time forward and backward, showing the glimpses of Ellie’s childhood, elicits further  sympathy for the main lead and once you feel for her, everything jumps into place and is swinging.

The pace of narration was vigorous and dynamic enough to keep me interested, the narrative voice of Ellie – quite believable. Overall it was a very pleasant, light read but for the ending…

What I didn’t like:

Let me start with a quote:

„Fuck, Ellie. I’ve never hated being so right in all my life. You’re a con artist. A liar. A thief. An unredeemable soul. You can’t be reformed. You can’t be saved. You’ll die trying to make the world pay for what it did to you. And you’ll die alone.” 

Those are the words of an angry, bitter Camden, tricked by lovely Ellie one time too often. Completely understandable from his POV. Still, before the book ends he forgives her completely. He says:

“I hate you, Ellie Watt,” he whispered, lips coming closer to mine, “because I still love you after all these years.”

I found that change of heart a bit too swift but the series has just begun so I might change my mind as well. Or not. It is always a problem with dysfunctional relationship – you must be very careful not to cross certain lines. For example your flawed characters cannot be redeemed too quickly or they lose the ‘reality’ gloss. Which is very bad for any fictional character which wants to stay believable and interesting.
Connected to that train of thought (and being rather vague in order not to spoil anything): once upon a time Ellie’s parents made a crucial mistake and she had to pay for it very dearly. Then Ellie makes the same crucial mistake and…she will have to pay for it very dearly. Is she really supposed to be an intelligent con artist, as presented at the beginning? Yes, I know, the series is in progress and all that jazz…I’ll have to wait and see.
...and then I died at 28, ha ha.

Finally you should be warned that the book ends with one big cliffhanger. If you don’t like such tricks then wait a bit – the second part is bound to be released this year and you’ll be able to sate your curiosity.

Final verdict:

A nice beginning of a new series which might or might not continue in an interesting way. I just hope the second part won’t end with a cliffhanger and will explain some stupid decisions taken by Ellie in her past.

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4 Responses to Review: Sins and Needles (The Artists Trilogy 01) by Karina Halle

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    Maybe, or maybe not

  2. heidenkind says:

    Problems like this are why I've stopped reading books I know are tied to a series. Sometimes I get tricked into reading one, though.

  3. Yeah, this one sounded so enticing. I bet I will be tempted to read the second part as well. Weak…

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