Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Poetic Injustice by Alicia Dean

TITLE: Poetic Injustice
AUTHOR: Alicia Dean
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 32k)
GENRE: Romantic suspense
COST: $4.50

The murder of Judge Mona Morrison just might bring Detective Samantha Colby the promotion she so desperately wants, if she could only keep her thoughts on the case and not the hunky bad boy ME, Dexter Hawkins…

In a lot of ways, this reminds me of the stories that I used to read in my grandmother’s magazines when I was growing up. The mystery was always fairly basic but functional, the characters unthreatening and flat, and the romance palatable for the most conservative of audiences. They were fine when I was ten. Now that I’m older, the same kind of experience is vaguely unsatisfying, like having dry toast for breakfast when you’d really like a gooey cheese omelet.

Sam Colby is brisk and efficient, focusing on her job since she’s just come off a bad divorce. The last thing she needs is an unexplained attraction to the new ME, Dexter Hawkins, especially since he looks like the same kind of bad boy who just screwed her over. Their relationship is fractious, with both of them behaving badly, and I found it very difficult to like either one of them. My ill will toward Dex only increased after his ex-wife showed up and started extolling all the man’s virtues. In the course of a single conversation, I’m expected to throw away all my feelings about what a jerk he is and realize that he really is a knight in shining armor, too good to actually be true. Nope, didn’t happen. If anything, it annoyed me even more. It doesn’t help that Sam’s characterization is flat, with her reactions predictable and her motivations shallow. I didn’t care a single iota whether these two hooked up or not.

The murder mystery is handled more competently than the romance, and feels throughout the course of the story that this is really the part of the plot the author cares about. A lot of attention is given to the details of the case, and while it’s not anything hugely original, it’s engaging enough to keep me reading when I really don’t like the main characters. It becomes evident early on that there are only three viable suspects, and the author tries to build suspense by occasionally dipping into the murderer’s POV, without ever revealing the identity. It works to a small degree, and probably would have worked better for me if I cared about impending danger to Sam. The ending seemed to come far too abruptly, as well, while the entire last quarter with Sam and the murderer dragged on far, far too long. That imbalance is indicative of the problems that plague the whole book, in fact, and doesn’t make this one I can honestly recommend.


6/10 – Simplistic with easy editorial errors, though swift


4/10 – A jerk, and then too good to be true


5/10 – Flat if efficient

Entertainment value

4/10 – Only the suspense elements save me from being bored

World building

7/10 – Solid attempt



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