Come in and Cover Me: A Novel by Gin Phillips (New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 352 pp)

Gin Phillips is the author of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award-winning novel The Well and the Mine. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Little, Brown and Company. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”.

There’s Honor in the Attempt

I gave it a shot and I didn’t get very far. Gin Phillips’ Come in and Cover Me just didn’t suite my fancy. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book.

Quickly, here’s the publisher’s blurb:

“When Ren was twelve years old, she lost her older brother in a car accident. For twenty-five years he’s been a presence in her life, appearing with a song or a reflection in the moonlight. Her connection to him and the other ghosts around her has made her especially sensitive as an archeologist, understanding more than just the bare outline of our ancestors, re-creating lives and stories, and breathing life into those who occupied this world long before us. On the cusp of the most important find of her career, it is the ghosts who are guiding her way. But what they have to tell Ren about herself, and her developing relationship with the first man to really know her since her brother’s death, is unexpected—a discovery about the relationship between the past and the future, and the importance of living in the moment.”

From a plot perspective, Come in and Cover Me carries quite a bit of intrigue. There’s a supernatural element that feels a touch lighter than a full-on ghost story. There’s the standard love narrative. And, the Southwest setting conjures almost a modern-day cowboy tale. Hear me loud and clear: I wanted to like this book.

The Words We Speak Matter

But for me, there was one rather large stumbling block: the dialogue.

It doesn’t require a high level of erudition or be easy to read. But I do want dialogue to accurately reflect the characters. Before I abandoned this book, I too often fell into patches of head scratching dialogue. Consider this example:

“’I got one,’ said Silas. ‘What do you call a giant jackrabbit that causes cavities?’
Ren chewed, blackened skin crunching softly against her teeth. ‘A plaque-alope,’ she said after a moment. She swallowed, ‘What about a giant jackrabbit you can land a plane on?’
‘Tarmac-alope,’ said Silas.
‘You guys got skills,’ said Paul” (15).

Aside from its lack of humor—which might be the most accurate part of this quotation—I found the content dumbfounding. A group of archeologists might have some bad jokes but I don’t want those topics to dominate a dialogue. It seems unnecessary and does little to build characters.

More Than Likely a Good Book, Although I’ll Never Know

Examples like this one left me frustrated, but I also recognize that this book doesn’t necessarily fit my ideal style. I appreciate complex language and realistic dialogue more than I like the depth of a plot.

If two characters speak well but remain in the same room for an entire book, I’ll read it. But if the characters relate oddly to each other while they traverse the universe, I probably won’t appreciate that book as much.

I am positive Come in and Cover Me is an excellent book for the right person. It has everything a plot-centric individual would want. I recommend it for those types of book carnivores. But it’s not for me.

Verdict: Unfinished

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