Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Losing My Sense Of Humor

It's like this - if I don't read a good book soon I may become a danger to myself and others. Seriously. I'm not asking for the moon here. It doesn't have to be a great book. Just entertaining. And it really shouldn't annoy me on any level. Is that too much to ask?

I was seriously stoked when I learned that Lethal by Shari Shattuck had a publication date (June 2005). And while it languished in my TBR for several months (hey, I have books to review ya know!), I got to it fairly quickly given that my usual M.O. is too leave books lying around for years.

Talk about a major disappointment.

I adored this author's debut, Loaded. I loved that it had a crime noir atmosphere (as in "gritty"), and it featured a strong, not always likeable, female protagonist. I also found the suspense thread to be quite good, as it put our lead character in a bit of peril.

Lethal features none of these things.

There's a small shred of "gritty" left, but it's shoved off into the corner. The heroine, once strong and independent, morphs into whiny and spoiled during stretches and the suspense thread blows monkey chunks.

Some of this might constitute spoilers - so you've been warned.

Callaway "Cally" Wilde is shopping in Little Toyko during her lunch break from jury duty. That's when she spies a thug harrassing a pretty Japanese girl and rides to the rescue. The pretty Japanese girl, Aya, is a medical student who finds herself being harrassed by Very Bad Men. So Cally and her boyfriend, Detective Evan Paley, agree to help her.

I think I've read too many mystery novels, because when an author does things even slightly half-assed it jumps out from the page at me. The suspense thread here remains entirely too convoluted for too long. Between Aya's "guardian" (OK, sugar daddy), a South American drug lord, and Aya's "little sister" the whole thing spins drunkenly out of control. Plus, Cally is so damn stubborn she fails to see what the reader knows immediately - that Aya is not only not telling her the whole truth but she's also playing her like a fiddle.

Frankly the Cally in Loaded was much smarter than that. Given that Lethal takes place only 8 months later in time, I wonder what happened? Did Cally take to snorting coke again? Did she get dropped on her head? Is all the incredible sex with Evan killing off brain cells?

I was pretty much annoyed by this whole book until the ending. The final chapter is rather good, and advances the Cally/Evan relationship quite nicely. But other than that? Meh.

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