Wednesday, October 19, 2011

TBR Challenge 2011: Men Like The Hot Head Cases

The Book: Dead Shot by Annie Solomon

The Particulars: Romantic suspense, Warner Books, 2007, Out of Print but available digitally

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR: I read a previous book by Solomon and enjoyed it.  The description of this one intrigued, so I picked it up.  Pretty sure I bought it new at Borders (RIP), but who can remember for sure now?

Danger, danger, thar be spoilers ahoy!

The Review:  Romantic suspense is a sub genre I really want to love, but I'll admit I'm a harsh critic.  A big reason for this is that I cut my reading teeth on mystery/suspense.  I'm one of those rare romance readers who gets annoyed when the romance gets in the way of the suspense.  With Dead Shot the suspense was interesting, the romance was somewhat promising, but standing in the way?  The heroine.  Oh, and the ending.  But more on that in a bit.

Poor little rich girl Gillian Gray came home one day to find her supermodel mother dead on their kitchen floor.  Brutally raped and murdered.  School-age Gillian eventually went to live with her cold-fish grandparents, got shipped off to boarding school, and ultimately turned to photography as an outlet for her rage.  She specializes in self-portraits.  Ones where she concocts crime scenes and then dolls herself up as a murder victim.  Her mission is not only to provoke the establishment, but also her mother's killer - who was never caught.  She's telling the guy "come and get me."  However seems their wires got crossed, because the bad guy isn't coming after her.  Oh no.  He's killing innocent women and using their corpses to recreate Gillian's photographs. 

Ray Pearce is an ex-cop who now works for a security company.  He has plans to shake off the dust of Nashville for parts unknown, but his personal baggage keeps holding him back.  His boss is hired to work security at the art gallery where Gillian's photos are on display and after there is an "incident" - her grandfather hires him to look after Gillian personally.  To keep her safe.  The problem being that Gillian has a death wish.

What we have is one of those books where I spent the whole time thinking, "Yeah, but what does he see in her?"  Ray's an interesting guy - with an ex-wife, an ex-brother-in-law who is still a cop, and an ex-father-in-law, also a ex-cop, who is suffering from dementia.  He's a guy with believable baggage.  A nice guy.  A guy who wants to do the right thing.  Will you marry me Ray?

The problem here is Gillian.  Now, technically speaking, just because some whack-a-do is using her photographs in his killing spree doesn't make it "her fault."  However, the fact that these poor dead innocent bystanders barely register a blip on her radar is.  Also, I can deal with her being reckless and stupid - but when her reckless stupidness starts putting innocents in danger?  Yeah, it's hard to feel sorry for the poor little rich girl, even if her Mommy was murdered, and even if she resorted to cutting herself before she discovered photography as a healthy outlet.  Sorry, not buying.

However, I was rolling with it.  Solomon can write, the pages flipped easily, and since I'm currently slogging my way out of a reading slump, that cannot be overstated.  Then I get to the ending.

Uh, what ending?

We never find out who murdered Gillian's Mommy.  And since the author makes this out to be a big, honkin' hairy deal for the entire blessed book?  Yeah, no resolution to this = bad.  Now, I know what you're thinking: "But Wendy....real life is often very messy.  We don't always get resolution.  We don't always have the answers."  To which I say?  "This is genre fiction, not real life."  You know why people read genre fiction?  We like resolution.  We like answers.  We like things being neat and tidy at the end.  And since Gillian's every waking moment is haunted by Mommy's murder?  To not get a resolution to that is well....crap.  The author does some tap-dancing, hoping to show the reader that Gillian has now confronted "her own demons" and that justice is done by the fresh murder victims - but yeah, not for Mommy.  You can't make a big deal out of this and then not give me any resolution to it.  It makes me cranky.

So we have one hot mess of a romance featuring a nice guy getting sucked into the orbit of a head case, and a vital chunk of what passes for the suspense in this story not being resolved.  At all.  Gee, and now I'm at the end of the review and I didn't even mention the strong emphasis on Gillian's waifish petiteness, Ray's annoying pet name for her ("Short Stack" ::shudder::), and the heavy handed use of the Rescue Fantasy trope (never a huge favorite of mine).  Yeah, none of this worked for me.  At all.  But it was readable - hence not DNF'ing it.  And if nothing else?  It's out of the TBR now.

Final Grade = D-

Sidenote: If you're wondering about the title of this blog post - I was chatting with My Man about this book and he asked, "Is she hot?"  To which I said, "It's romance novel, of course the heroine is hot."  His reply: "Some men can't say no to hot head cases."  No truer words have ever been spoken.  Oh Ray.  Why Ray?  Why?!  Why her?!


Kwana said...

Oh no. Sorry about that unfortunate non resolution ending. Bummer. Now I even want to know who killed the mama.

Phyl said...

I remember reading about this one and the idea of the heroine posing herself for the pictures just squicked me out. I'm glad I passed it by. As always, thanks for taking one for the team :-)

Wendy said...

Kwana: The Dead Mama really is in full focus here - with the New Murder Victims getting more a surface treatment. So to have the "new murders" solved and not mama's? I found it unsatisfying.

Phyl: I liked the idea of the premise because it sounded suitably creepy. Also, I'm a sucker for deeply damaged heroines (more so than heroes actually - although I like them too). But yeah, the execution just wasn't here for me. Bugger.