Archive for 'Hess, Joan'
Damesels in Distress is a Claire Malloy book, set in Farberville, Arkansas. Claire owns a bookstore, has an annoying teenage daughter, and a fiancÃ© who is a police officer. She gets involved in the first local Renaissance Fair when one of the organizers asks if they can do some publicity-generating demonstrations outside her store and her daughter Caron is required to help out at the fair for a history class.
Before the fair even starts, one of the organizers dies in a suspicious house fire near Claireâ€™s own home. And on the day of the fair, another is murdered, an ax buried in his skull. Since her fiancÃ© is away, Claire decides to investigate the murders on her own and find out what the dynamics of this seemingly harmless hobby group are.
The plot of this book isnâ€™t bad and some of the characters are interesting and appealing. But there is at least one serious editing error where parts of an important conversation appear to have been left out of the book (vital clues from this conversation that doesnâ€™t exist are referred to 50 pages later and the reader is left scratching her head, wondering when that information came to light) and this makes me wonder if the book breezed through editing when it shouldnâ€™t have.
â€œI did not engage in any criminal activityâ€ is what Claire tells the police after she has let herself into the murder victimâ€™s house and searched it before the police get there with a warrant. â€œI believe strongly in doing my civic duty, which includes informing the police of potential criminal activityâ€ is what Claire says to herself. But she seems to have forgotten about the drugs she saw in a suspectâ€™s apartment, the drunken 16 year olds she encouraged to hide their drinking, and her own trespassing in three different residences.
Or maybe Hess is trying to tell us that Claire isnâ€™t a good person. What kind of mother hopes her 16 year old daughter is staying at a friendâ€™s house and refuses to answer the phone when the girl has been absent all day? Or sends two drunken teenagers with a squeamish adult to guard the body of a man with an ax in his head when there are 100 responsible adults nearby? Or sends four young children to get their mother who is believed to be armed and holding a hostage?
In the end, I guess it doesnâ€™t really matter to me whether these are all editing errors or Hess is painting Claireâ€™s character black. The inconsistencies in story and character just break up the book too much for it to be enjoyable for me.
Favorite character? Peter Rosen, who should definitely break off the engagement. Did I guess it? No. Will I read another? I have read many in both this series and the Maggody series, but I think I am done for now.
Mystery Book Reviews by Liz at http://reviewedbyliz.com Â©2007