The Night of Four Hundred Rabbits - Elizabeth Peters

~~Moved from GR~~


The Night of Four Hundred Rabbits

by Elizabeth Peters


Book summary in one sentence: Hey, kids, don't do drugs.

Longer summary: college student Carol loads up her mysterious past and deadbeat druggie boyfriend and goes down to Mexico to find her long-lost father. She meets up with him and quickly becomes perplexed and afraid of the mysterious behaviour of the people around her. Throughout, Carol fights constantly to pull her boyfriend away from the diabolical lure of drugs; the conclusion is obvious from the first dire foreshadowing sidenote. Evil portents and dark omens abound; actual mystery and suspense are entirely absent. The main character is weak and the rest of the cast is uniformly unpleasant and uninteresting.

I found this to be a preaching, proselytizing, depressing, boring, and above all simplistic book. And Elizabeth Peters wrote it. Appalled? I was. In fact, I'm still incredulous. This can't have been written by Peters. It just has to have been written by some malefactor who stole her name. To make it even worse, I listened to this on audio by a reader who spoke in monotone in a voice entirely devoid of emotion or inflection and who kept pronouncing the Spanish in the worst of American accents (for example, Jaime became "HIE-MEE"). She also has a very irregular reading pace and puts pauses in bizarre places; for example, here's how one sentence got read, where '.' is used to indicate pauses between words: "Ivan... was... wearing his favorite.... black shirt............ and slacks". Yes, it is difficult to listen to.

What surprised me was the strength and strident tone of Peters' anti-drug message. I can't imagine that this sort of book can come from mere creativity; I suspect she suffered a personal tragedy related to drugs. I don't understand books like this. Non drug users certainly don't need to be convinced or scared. As for drug users, if people are willing to happily ignore the actual disturbing facts about drug use, I can't imagine that a bit of fiction will suddenly sway them. All this does is cover standard ground: marijuana is a gateway drug. LSD is really bad. Drug addiction can slowly erode peoples' humanity. Drug traffickers are bad people.

Overall, I'm disappointed and totally thrown by this. If you're looking to try Peters for the first time, please, please, do not read this. And if you had the misfortune to have already committed this error, don't take this as representative of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels-- she is a much, much better author than this. She is, in fact, the creator of one of the most fantastic first-person narrators I have read (The Amelia Peabody series; first book is Crocodile on the Sandbank) and her other works are uniformly hilarious, articulate, entertaining, and intelligent.

And unless you are a hardcore fan (and possibly even if you are), I suggest leaving all 400 rabbits alone.