Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Digital Review: It Had To Be You

There are certain key words that can crop up on back cover blurbs that cause my brain to freeze up.  It Had To Be You by Delynn Royer threw up a big road block for me when the heroine is described as an "heiress" who dreams of being a "crime reporter."  Seriously, this book could have been a hot mess.  Thankfully the 1920s New York City backdrop was enough to hook me and I'm glad I gave this story a whirl.  It's not without issues, but it was an agreeable way to spend some time.

Trixie Frank's father owns a chain of super successful five and dime stores.  She could rest on her laurels, she could play the part of party-girl heiress, but Trixie has ambitions.  She wants to be a crime reporter.  Through luck and pluck she did land herself one big story at her former paper and parlayed that into a job with the New York Morning Examiner, an up-and-coming tabloid.  Unfortunately her new job has landed her on the rewrite desk and when she does get a story of her own to cover?  Yeah, it's the holiday parade interviewing Santa Claus.  However as luck would have it, she has an altercation with a young street kid who tries to steal her purse.  Trixie smells a story, so gives the kid her makeshift business card.  When that same card turns up next to the body of a dead mobster, well Trixie is in the soup now.

Sean Costigan is a cop on the wrong side of the current political tide within the department.  Sean comes from a family a cops, and his uncle had a reputation for being incorruptible.  But times change, the men in power change, dear old uncle was forced out and has since passed on.  Which means Sean with his last name is trying to claw his way back into favor.  He knew Johnny from the old neighborhood, which is why he's working the dead mobster case despite his current falling out of favor.  He also has a history with the man's missing wife, a gal from the neighborhood that Sean used to be engaged to before she threw him over.  The business card on the scene leads him to Trixie, who in turn leads him to the missing street kid who just may have witnessed the crime.  But in order to crack the case he needs to find the kid, figure out who he can trust, and scratch Trixie's back if he expects her to scratch his.

This was a fun read that featured a pretty solid mystery.  It's 1924 New York City, so we're knee deep in Prohibition, gangsters and corrupt cops.  The author twists and turns the plot and did a solid job of keeping me guessing until the end.  I liked that Trixie was smart and thought quick on her feet without running off half-cocked playing "girl reporter."  Sean puzzles things out, does get his head turned a bit by his past, but yet is smart enough to not trust everything everyone tries to sell him on.

The writing style does get a little lumpy in spots, mostly when the author relies on telling over showing.  There are instances where events take place "off page" and the author relays them to the reader through the characters' internal monologues.  A good example of this is when Trixie's apartment is broken into.  Sean decides to do a stakeout and uncovers who is behind the break-in.  Instead of being with Sean as he is "doing" this?  He relays it to the reader after the fact and the actual uncovering of the culprit takes place "off page."  It defuses the tension and stalls the momentum of the suspense thread.

Writing quibbles aside, this was an enjoyable light mystery with strong romantic elements.  A good bet for cozy mystery fans, historical mystery fans, or historical romance fans looking for something not set in Regency England.  Royer could easily morph this into a series featuring further adventures of Sean and Trixie.  Here's hoping she does.

Final Grade = B-


Marguerite Kaye said...

This has got the kind of mix that I can't resist, especially with the 1920s setting. Going to add this one to my TBR, thank you.

Wendy said...

Marguerite: The price is very reasonable as well - another selling point! I liked this one. It's not without issues, but enjoyable all the same.