Friday, June 13, 2008

See No Evil, My Pretty Lady by Miss Mae

TITLE: See No Evil, My Pretty Lady
AUTHOR: Miss Mae
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 37k)
GENRE: Historical romantic mystery
COST: $3.00

After three days as a kitchen maid, Dorcy Edwards discovers her wealthy employer’s murdered body and runs, hysterical, from the house, straight into the arms of the man terrorizing Whitechapel – Jack the Ripper. She manages to escape, but the truth of her employer’s murder comes to light, and Scotland Yard gets involved in solving the case. When the murdered man’s will vows to place five people on an island – one of whom is supposed to be the murderer – all hell breaks loose. But nobody can inherit if they don’t go, and Dorcy finds herself in the company of strangers. And a murderer.

Right off the bat, I’m going to say, I am not the audience for this story. I thought it would likely be a romantic suspense story, since Jack the Ripper is supposedly involved and that case was never solved, but within a few chapters, it becomes readily apparent that it’s meant to be more of a tribute to those English drawing room detective kind of stories. I’m sure there’s probably a name for them, but I don’t know it (I'll freely admit it's because they have never interested me enough to bother having the name stick if in fact I did know at one point what they are called). You know the stories I mean. The ones where something throws a group of veritable strangers together to deduce which one of them is a murderer, including the detective or the cop or whoever it is solving the murder, and slowly, bit by bit, secrets are revealed. I could almost hear the organ music in the background as I was reading. But honestly, these are really not my cup of tea, so take the rest of my review as you will.

Though the prose is technically correct without any headhopping that so often annoys me, I found myself bogged down in it almost immediately. It’s incredibly overwritten. Too many extraneous adjectives abound, and it felt like every other sentence in the first few chapters started with a gerund phrase. The description is not only too much, but too repetitive. For instance, the murdered man’s son, Gareth – who is the romantic male lead in the story – has thick wavy dark hair, which we get reminded of constantly: the waves in his thick hair shone like folds of black satin, and, Mr. Davenport’s thick black waves shone under the glow of the wall lamps, and Light from the wall lamp reflected against his hair, the thick waves shining with the luster of a black pearl, and even a thought of Dorcy’s, Why do his black waves shine like onyx? Most of those come within just a few pages of each other, and, when compounded with all the overdescription – Dorcy’s benefactors, the Butterfields, completely live up to the roundness of their name…over and over and over again – what should have been a relatively quick read ended up taking me hours to slog through.

Things do pick up about halfway through the story, when events start happening left and right as the secrets come out and accidents and misdeeds befall the suspects, but by the time I reached that point, I just didn’t care anymore. I guessed the ending before they left for the island, though that’s not necessarily the fault of the story. There are enough red herrings and typical misdirections in this kind of thing to keep it going, I suppose, but in the end, this type of mystery just never engages me.

Readability

5/10 – Prose so purple, it’s royal, but at least it’s spelled correctly and there’s no headhopping.

Hero

5/10 – Nice enough, I suppose, and typical of the genre, but I muddle so much with the prose that I just can’t sink into the story.

Heroine

4/10 – Probably typical for the type, but her fixations annoyed me to no end.

Entertainment value

2/10 – I am totally the wrong audience for this kind of story.

World building

8/10 – Oh, the world is there, all right. In too much detail.

TOTAL:

24/50

1 comment:

Miss Mae said...

Thank you for the review. I appreciate the time you gave regarding this! :)

MM