For starters, the main character, Tai, owns a gun shop and previously gave ghost tours in Savannah. Then when her brother is a suspect in a murder, she starts her own investigation (okay, as a twenty year resident of Atlanta, I understand why you might want to investigate things yourself…so she gets credit for that. But I’m telling you, this book sucks.) My point is: what kind of protagonist is this? I want humorless, hard-boiled types with commitment problems and all sorts of neurosis. And besides, a fictional southern chick who isn’t oversexed or emotionally fragile or hasn’t an unhealthy dependency on rich older men is just weird. Tai isn’t stereotypical, I just can’t handle that. This isn’t safe. Anything could happen in this mystery. Completely unpredictable.
But worst of all is Trey, the supposed badass security expert. Fine, I’ll concede the hot looks and a Ferrari have their appeal, but from the description, I was given to believe that Trey possessed supernatural powers allowing him to perceive when people were lying. I thought this was so cool, because I love hot heroes who couldn’t possibly exist in real world, like vampires or werewolves. But then Tina goes and explains the specific parts of Trey’s brain that have been damaged, giving him this odd ability to detect lies (and he is not 100% accurate with it either. What the hell? There’s that damn unpredictable element again) , but leaving him with a nasty identity crisis. This sounds a little too close to reality for my tastes.
To illustrate my points, I have chosen this terrible passage:
I smiled up at him. “You’re Mr. Seaver,” I said. “And you’re kind of relentless, anybody ever tell you that?”
He didn’t reply. His eyes were blue, startlingly so, and he directed them like x-rays. The bartender pretended to be engrossed in mashing up mint leaves, but his ears pricked our way. I lowered my voice.
“Look, I know you’re watching me, so just do me the courtesy of admitting it, all right?”
After the slightest hesitation, he nodded once, crisply.
I smiled wider. “See how easy that was? Now we can be friends.” I patted the stool beside me. “Would you like to sit down, maybe have a drink? I’m putting everything on somebody else’s tab tonight.”
He shook his head. “I don’t drink. Except for water. And hot tea.”
“Water like in ice water.”
“Water like in Pellegrino.”
What kind of badass drinks tea and Pellegrino? Suck some blood perhaps, but fizzy water? Quick, I must grab some Charlaine Harris. I’m feeling a bit dizzy.
And another thing: the plot! Good heavens, it’s filled with all sorts of twists and turns. I couldn’t keep up. All these characters keep showing up and they’re, you know, different. A bisexual African American best friend, a Hispanic stripper and a new age healer. Look, I live in Atlanta and just because I see these people every day, they have no place in a mystery. No place at all!
Another example from Tai’s friend Rico - -the bisexual African American one.
Rico’s voice was serious. “This is deep shit you’re talking. You called a lawyer, right? Doesn’t your brother work for some fancy people who know a fancy lawyer.”
I made a noise. “Don’t worry about Eric, he’s good at covering his ass.”
“We’re not talking about his ass, sweetie. That’s your ass up there on 11 Alive News at Ten.”
“I didn’t even know this girl!”
Rico snorted. “Like the APD care. They got prostitutes to push, drug cartels to run –“
“This is ridiculous.”
“So say all the suspects.”
“I’m for real! And don’t think for a second they’re not looking at that assload of weapons you inherited.”
I probably shouldn’t have included that passage. It’s a bit suspenseful and might make you want to read this book. So, let me assure you the book’s ending is awful. I didn’t see it coming. I hate surprises. I don’t care that Tina showed how it all worked. Yeah, it made perfect sense in retrospect. And the worst thing, (and this is a tiny spoiler…although I don’t know why I’m bothering to tell you that, because you aren’t going to read this book anyway) the murderer is not a psycho killer!!! Look, aside from real statistical evidence, isn’t every murderer a psycho? Tina doesn’t even include one of those creepy first person monologues in the murder’s voice, you know, like in EVERY mystery book. I just don’t understand how she got those starred reviews in Kirkus Review and Publishers Weekly for this piece of claptrap. They say it’s well-written, but I’ll let you judge for yourself by including the following crappy passage:
I remembered Piedmont Park from the previous summer, when Rico and I had watched Casablanca one midsummer night, blanket to blanket with the soccer mom/buff gay guy demographic, drinking moscato straight from the bottle. At that time, barely a month had passed since Mom’s death, and I remembered feeling like I was in an overturned fishbowl, separate from the rest of the city. Every sensual detail had been as rich and distinct as an oil painting – the hazy islands of candlelight around us, the smell of crushed grass, the latent heat.
See what I mean. And they say Tina teaches writing classes.
So, in conclusion, if you want a mystery that supposedly makes logical sense and is solved by “real” people, you might like this book. My twin sister, Susanna, thinks the book is amazing. She keeps going on about great characters, witty dialogue, awesome pacing, and smart plotting. But she's an "intellectual." For me, I prefer psycho werewolf paranormal shape shifting fairy killers that I can spot from the first page and cozy secondary characters that are comfortably predictable in their quirkiness.