Friday, April 1, 2011

Killing Joe by Marie Treanor

TITLE: Killing Joe
AUTHOR: Marie Treanor
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 27k)
GENRE: Paranormal romance
COST: $3.50

Crash test researcher Dr. Anna Baird is on the verge of exposing one of the most dangerous cars in Scotland, unless the assassin sent to kill her gets to her first. The only problem is…he doesn’t. He’s a victim of irony that puts him in a coma, a deep sleep that somehow connects him to Anna’s world…

I picked up this novella from my TBR after finishing the last story because I’d hoped reading an author I’d liked in the past would help me bounce back. The bounce wasn’t that far, unfortunately, as I picked an older story that lacks some of her later finesse.

Dr. Anna Baird is a crash test dummy expert, working at the Institute of Crash Research in Edinburgh. At the story’s start, she is being stalked by an assassin who calls himself Joe, who plans to kill her in a car accident using her own research. Cosmic irony, he figures. Except the irony is, he gets in his own accident before he can do it, sending him into a coma with dangerous injuries. At the time of his accident, Anna sees his face on her special crash test dummy, then later on, when she’s alone, she sees him when he takes the dummy’s place in storage.

It’s a fascinating idea, but it never really rises above that. Much of Joe’s presence in Anna’s world is left to the mystical, and the lack of explanation is frustrating when the rest of the story feels so realistic. This lack ends up working against Anna’s characterization as it makes her come across as highly emotional and a little unbalanced, instead of proving reasons for her to respond the way she does. When she falls for Joe so quickly, the creepiness of his stalking her at the top of the story is supplanted by her obsession with him. It never felt like a romance at that point, and when it’s attempted to get an HEA later on, it feels like an entirely different story.

It’s not helped that the editing isn’t as tight as I would expect from Samhain. There is an early mistake of using “grizzly” in place of “grisly” (more than once) that was so glaring it only spotlighted later errors even brighter (like the cop’s name changes spelling). Unfortunately, these kind of red flags disrupt my reading flow quite a bit, and with all my questions regarding the nature of the world and Joe’s situation, it was already disrupted enough. This ends up being very middle of the road for me, with points for originality but not so many for execution.


7/10 – Minor technical things pulled me out of the story a little


6/10 – Some intriguing characteristics going on here, but not enough to make him clear or let me connect to him emotionally


6/10 – Smart but seems emotionally unbalanced, making the insta-love feel even more creepy

Entertainment value

6/10 – An average read, only slightly better because of its unusual story

World building

6/10 – There needed to be more about Joe, his past, how it all worked…just more



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