Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not a Girl Detective by Susan Kandel

Finished it yesterday. Overall reaction: Decent but not outstanding.

Not a Girl Detective was a pleasant enough read; it's a good concept: Cece Caruso writes biographies of famous mystery writers and then finds herself involved in mysteries that in some way relate to her subjects lives and/or characters; in fact, the concept might get me to read another book, despite this one's drawbacks.

I mostly liked the main character, loved her clothes, and appreciated the strong friendship portrayed in the book.

Still, it was a book that felt longer than it should have.

One reason for this is that Kandel frequently gives into the temptation to provide undigested chunks of information, bits that she apparently found fascinating but that don't really relate to the mystery itself. With the Nancy Drew segments, this was largely forgivable: The main character is writing a book on Carolyn Keene, after all, so the topic is bound to come up. Even here, though, it comes up more often and in more detail than is necessary; I can't imagine anyone coming up and just rattling off the first appearances of every animal in the Nancy Drew books, unasked, not even at a Nancy Drew convention. There are also wanderings off into other directions, only a few of which turn out to be relevant and many of which are similarly awkwardly placed--Cece sits down to read and tells us what she is reading, for example, or, again, another character wanders up and rattles off a string of information for no particular reason.

A more general note: Female amateur sleuths need to stop dating policeman almost as much as romance heroines need to give up vampires.

To give Kandel credit, it is not the handsome male policeman who saves her from the gun-toting criminal as he details his crimes, and the policeman in question also has the grace not to forbid Cece to involve herself in crime ever again, nor does he ever sit down and obligingly list of clues for Cece to pluckily piece together--so the worst pitfalls are avoided.

Conclusion: Looking for a light read? Check the paperback out of the library.

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