Saturday, August 26, 2017

Catching Up and Various Mini-Reviews

Oh hi there.  Yes, I have a blog.  A blog that I've ignored for over a week.  So what has Wendy been up to?  For one thing, work has been nutty.  I've been dealing with hiring new staff and contracts.  Both very important things, but it's made for long, mentally exhausting days at the office.

Then there's the fact that I finally bit the bullet and bought a FitBit.  Yes, I'm now officially one of The Borg.  So far it's been extremely helpful in holding me accountable.  It's made it easy for me to keep a food journal, track my exercise and smack me in the face with my inactivity during the work week (I sit a lot at my job, which I'm sure is slowly killing me....)

But I have managed to get some reading done - sort of.  I finally wrapped up a series I was neglecting and I got through two audiobooks.  Well, sort of.

You Belong to Me by Karen Rose was an audiobook I had to DNF at the 50% mark because I loathed the heroine.  She's a medical examiner and discovered a dead (and tortured) body on her regular morning run.  It's quickly determined that she was meant to find the body and that the killer is, for some reason, fixated on her.  Then more dead bodies start turning up.  There's a hunky homicide cop hero who is immediately captivated by her and the "romance" goes from zero to 60 in less than 12 hours.  The hero's boss is painted as this unreasonable jerk because he thinks the heroine is hiding something.  Gee, you don't say?

She's keeping secrets.  Some of them are just seriously stupid.  She's a musician.  Nobody can know that for some reason.  She plays the electric violin in a club she owns (while decked out in S&M-like gear because OF COURSE!) with her BFF (who does some weird act with whips - because OF COURSE!) and a defense attorney.  The hero follows her and finds out she's been keeping secrets and while they're having their first "love scene" against a back alley wall, the villain leaves another dead body in the heroine's car.

As if that weren't enough, the heroine justifies not being totally upfront with the cops because it's her private life and she wants to "keep something just for myself."

Yeah, I'm done.  Look cupcake - YOU'RE A MEDICAL EXAMINER!  You work with cops all the time.  Some mad man is out there torturing people to death, it's somehow linked to you, and YOU WANT TO KEEP SOMETHING JUST FOR YOURSELF?!?!?!?  This isn't your first rodeo. Buh bye.

Final Grade = DNF

Unlaced by the Outlaw by Michelle Willingham is the fourth and final book in the author's Secrets in Silk quartet for Amazon Montlake (Attention: Kindle Unlimited users...).  This series has mostly ranged from OK (the majority of the books) to Oh Man, That Was Really Good (the second book).  This book is Margaret's story, the sister who is wound so tight that you'll find diamonds if you follow her into the bathroom.  She's spent the entire series tap dancing around the hero, a totally unsuitable and way beneath her Scottish Highlander-type.

This is the sort of book that wraps up the series well, and is a pleasant distraction while reading, but doesn't have a lot of staying power.  The high points of this series has been Willingham's interesting premise, her not throwing out the history baby with the historical bathwater, and the world-building.  But I'll be honest - I think I prefer the author's medievals to when she ventures into Regency era.

Final Grade = C+

I first discovered Marcia Muller as a teenager, browsing the stacks at my local, small town library.  I'm feeling nostalgic, so decided to relisten to the first book in her Sharon McCone, private investigator series, Edwin of the Iron Shoes on audio.  This was first published in the late 1970s, and mostly holds up well - namely thanks to the McCone character, an independent young woman working and living in San Francisco.

What didn't hold up so well was the homicide cop character of Greg Marcus - who has particular ideas on a woman's role, and refers to Sharon by the incredibly offensive "nickname" Papoose (Sharon is of Native American heritage).  But, if I'm being totally honest - his character fits well within the landscape and era Muller was writing this book in - and guys like Greg Marcus still exist today so....yeah.

The mystery itself was engaging, and the book (on the short side) was a quick listen on audio.  Muller could have fleshed out the secondary characters a bit better, and it reads like a mystery from the late 1970s (stylistically speaking) - but I enjoyed the nostalgia trip.

Final Grade = B-


azteclady said...

The Karen Rose: wow.

I had never heard of the Sharon McCone books, now I'm very curious.

::waving:: hello, Miz Wendy!

Wendy said...

AL: I still would have been annoyed by the heroine if she were a layperson, but SHE'S A MEDICAL EXAMINER!!! Working with the police is a HUGE part of her job. So for her to be so self-centered and idiotically selfish boggled my mind. I may be done with Rose. I remember loving Count to Ten when I read it many moons ago, but I DNF'ed this book and Have You Seen Her? both because the heroines drove me up one wall and down the other.

Muller is credited with writing the first female private eye - but my knowledge of mystery genre history isn't deep enough for me to say whether that's accurate or not. From a social history standpoint, I find this character and series interesting. She's independent like Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone - but has a few more softer edges.

azteclady said...

When the killer is focused on you--which, hello, obvious apparently fairly early on--no one has any excuses to 'keep something just for themselves.' But as you say, someone who actually works for/with cops? Beyond stupid; sloppy 'conflict' methinks.

Kerry said...

I would say first modern female private eye in the style set out by Chandler and Hammet. I think that Anna Katherine Green's Miss Violet Strange qualifies as a private eye, and she was writing in the 1890s.

Kate said...

Oh my goodness, I haven't thought about Marcia Muller books in years! My mom and I both enjoyed those.

I've always wondered why there aren't more mystery series with amateur detectives who run. So many opportunities to witness crimes, find bodies, etc. If I had the ability to write fiction (and yes I have tried--my dialog is *awful*) I would totally write that series.

Wendy said...

Kate: I've since re-listened to the second Sharon McCone book and plan to continue on with revisiting the series. I've been side-tracked by the latest Sue Grafton (so much better than X!) and then I have the new Susan Wiggs lined up on audio.