Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Something A Little Different

I finally got around to reading This Dame For Hire by Sandra Scoppettone after having my name on the request list at work for 3 months. I can't remember why I originally wanted to read this one, but I suspect it's because I read a review somewhere. It's the first in a new series, and while I had some issues with it, it's a cute read.

Think back to all those movies made in the 1930s and 1940s that featured fast-talkin' career gals. If she wasn't the lead character, she was most certainly the lead character's best friend. This Dame For Hire takes the My Girl Friday and gives her her own story.

Faye Quick is a private detective, a career she did not aspire to. She took a job as a secretary, and figured typing for a private detective would at least make for interesting reading. Then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and her boss is called to war. He asks Faye to keep the home fires burning. Um, not those home fires - he just wants her to run the agency while he's gone. He wants a business to come back to after he's done dealing with the Krauts.

So our girl Faye is a private detective in New York City in 1943 - a town devoid of eligible bachelors. When she literally stumbles over the dead body of a murdered college girl, she finds herself taking her first murder case. When the police can't solve the crime, the parents hire Faye to look into it. However these uptown people aren't terribly happy with the ugly truths that downtown Faye uncovers.

There's a lot to like here, mainly the original premise and setting. I also really enjoyed how Scoppettone writes about the war. Between young man dying, ration stamps, USO dances and the fact that Faye cannot get a decent pair of nylons, it's all great stuff.

The writing style here is very different, which I suspect will annoy some. The author writes in the vernacular. Faye is a New York gal, so there are lots of "yas" instead of "yous" and she's constantly dropping her g's. It's somethin not something for instance. There is also a lot of period slang, which I enjoyed because it adds some flavor to the setting. However readers bent on proper grammar (and if you are why are you reading my blog?) may find this all a bit old after a while.

My big quibble with the story is the introduction of a pyschic character, a friend of Faye's. Frankly it just plain bothered me. I suspect because I read too many romance novels and in Romance Novel Land when you shake a tree about 25 pyschic heroines fall out of it. It made the mystery too easy, and by the time the pyschic hits on the something it kind of blows it out of the water. I knew. And I knew too early. A shame since there are a ton of suspects.

The ending is a little on the abrupt side, with sort of a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am conclusion. But it's all wrapped up fairly neatly, and Faye solves her case. She also lands a date, and in a city not overrun with men that's saying something for our girl.

All in all a very nice read. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

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