Friday, March 2, 2007

Capitol Hill

One would think with my mounting TBR-anxiety and my collection of unread books that I would have given up reviewing ages ago. However, I do keep up with it for one simple reason: reviewing exposes me to authors and titles I probably wouldn't have touched otherwise.

Such is the case with Damage Control by Robert Dugoni. I'm glad I read it, since even though this is only his second fiction title, he has a nice healthy request list here at work. After wrapping this one up this morning I've come to the conclusion that it's the perfect library book. I'm glad I didn't pay $24.99 (hard cover) for it, but if I had picked it up while browsing the library shelves I wouldn't have been too upset. It's not perfect, but it's readable, making it a slightly above average read.

Dana Hill is about one step away from a meltdown. She has a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, but her marriage is a sham. Her husband takes the words "selfish jackass" to new levels. She's a lawyer with a demanding boss just itching to fire her, and now her doctor is telling her that the lump she found in her breast is malignant. Oh, and did I mention she gets a call that night from the police? Her twin brother, James, was beaten to death in his home when he walked in on a couple of burglars.

Dana is sure her brother's death wasn't random. For one thing, James owned nothing of value. He literally gave away all his worldly possessions when he quit private practice and became a law professor. Then, while she's packing up James' things she discovers a clue. A beautiful, one-of-a-kind earring. A bit of a shock since Dana didn't even know James was seeing anybody.

So Dana postpones cancer treatment to get answers and quickly comes across an ally in Detective Mike Logan. This is where the story gets bumpy. Logan allows her to keep the earring in her possession even after they find out that it's very important in solving James' murder. Um, don't most cops tend to keep evidence at the station? Then after Dana's snooping has serious consequences (I think 2 dead bodies counts as serious), Logan continues to let her freely walk around, and with him, playing amateur detective. Um, I don't personally know any cops, but I'm thinking they aren't in the habit of letting civilians investigate on their own, or with another cop. Period.

The police angle on this is pretty sloppy, in my opinion, but Dana saves the day. I'm always impressed by romance authors who get fictional male characters "right," and likewise with male authors who get fictional female characters "right." Dugoni hits all the right notes with Dana. She's been Super Woman - she works full time, takes care of her daughter and gets zero help from her selfish husband. She knows her marriage is in the crapper, but she's unwilling to admit that to herself for the sake of her daughter. It takes extreme circumstances for her to wake up.

The rest of the secondary characters are, unfortunately, pretty one-dimensional, although there are some stand out scenes featuring a servant character. That said, this was an undemanding read that kept me flipping the pages. I'm not sorry I read it, but it's not quite enough for me to keep track of Dugoni. I wouldn't suggest running out and buying it, but if you're bored and see it on the library shelf you could do a lot worse. Final Grade = C+.


Alie said...

Hmm I don't think I'd like that book based on your review and based on the plot. As you said, too many rational questions to be asked.

Do you find that you can read romance novels written by men? I'm not sure how many are out there though honestly. I've never been very interested in male authors myself. Just curious about your thoughts.

Wendy said...

K.N. Casper has written for HSR (first name Ken I think), and while I like that line, I haven't read anything by him. Leigh Greenwood (real name Harold something) writes westerns - and the ones I've read have been OK, but not remarkable. That said, of the ones I read I liked his heroines quite a bit.

Alie said...

Thanks for your thoughts and author names,Wendy! :)