Wednesday, June 04, 2008

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

Write it in your blog instead. Honestly, I wanted to like Eileen Davidson's Death in Daytime (Obsidian, Oct 2008). The concept seemed different enough--a series of whodunits set in Hollywood among the soap opera crowd--but the series debut was, in a word, awful. Davidson is a beautiful and (I'm sure) talented actress, but not even her ghostwriter could inject enough content that would make the book worth nearly seven bucks.

The protagonist, soap actress Alexis Peterson, has a personal fondness for forensics and crime scenes and can't help herself but get mixed up in a murder investigation for which she's a potential suspect. But poor Alex is a Hollywood cliché: she pretends at playing mom of the year, is a surfer matron, and drives a Porsche Speedster named Marilyn. Yes, readers, it's true.

Next come the inane and/or misrepresented characters. All the cops in this tale are either star-struck stutterers or idiots. Let's start with Detective Frank Jakes, the head detective who takes a serious liking to our protagonist. Yet, even if he's thinking from his pants, what professional detective is going to let a civilian go through a victim's home office and listen in on interrogations of other suspects at headquarters? Jakes also says things that seem improbable for a real detective. Yes, fiction is escapism, but the idea is that the characters resemble reality to be believable. But Jakes, when referring to the murdered victim, says, "she was mean enough that someone probably would have killed her sooner or later." What? Not even Leona Helmsley, New York's witch on wheels, ended up with that fate. (Helmsley died in 2007 at age 87 of congestive heart failure.)

Enter Lisa Daley, who's surely (not) got a MENSA membership by now. She says to the protagonist, "I didn't tell them [the police] the truth. That's going to be bad for me, isn't it?" Add to that plenty of dialogue that doesn't advance the story, such as the phone conversation that includes: "Sure," I said. "Bye."

It's only my 2 cents, but you'll save $6.99 plus tax if you bypass this one.

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