Well, I did it again -- stayed up all night to finish a Jodi Picoult book. This time, though, I was already about 100 pages into Salem Falls when I got in bed to read around 1:30 am last night. I finished the book around 5:30 -- I think -- before finally going to bed.
Basically, Salem Falls is a modern version of The Crucible -- a play that fictionalizes the Salem witch trials, where a group of girls started a witch hunt by pretending to be bewitched and giving false evidence against the women in the community. Whereas the witch trials dealt with the worst crime the residents of Salem could imagine, however, Salem Falls deals with one of the worst crimes imaginable today: sexual assault on a minor.
Although Salem Falls didn't grab me from the first few pages, as My Sister's Keeper did, by the time I was a third of the way through it I couldn't put down. Like her other books, Picoult has a lot of seemingly unrelated side plots going on at the same time, but which all seem to come together in the end. Unlike her other books, Picoult doesn't drop a bombshell within the first ten pages, and then spend the rest of the book exploring the before and after of the crater it makes. Instead, the bombshell comes later in the book -- but that doesn't make it any less compelling, proving that Picoult's skill as a suspense writer comes not from parlor tricks but from pure talent.