Secret Admirer
by Michele Jaffe, historical (2002)
Ballantine, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-45562-2

Lady Killer
by Michele Jaffe, historical (2002)
Ballantine, $6.99, ISBN 0-345-45562-2


Dear Ballantine Big Shots: it is nice that you take that white elephant Michele Jaffe away from Pocket and even nicer that you are attempting to give her a new boost of a career with this "2 Books In 1 Specially Priced at $6.99" promotion. It worked for Josie Litton, and no doubt you are hoping this promotion will catapult Ms Jaffe into the NYT Bestseller list the way it did for Ms Litton.

But you know what? You can surely find someone else to promote. Someone better than an author who writes as if she is a heavily-sedated 10-year old girl to whom English is not even the third language, probably the fourth or fifth. Have you even read the books? They suck. No, they just don't suck, they are powerful black holes that suck in astronauts and send them to distant galaxies a million light years away ala Farscape.

For one, Michele Jaffe's attempt at mystery is hysterical. She must think that's it so cool that Secret Admirer has a serial killer that targets men while Lady Killer has one that targets women and that both are related in some macabre way. But you know what? Her psychological profiles of these serial killers are so hilariously bad that even junkie psychology students will bust a rib laughing.

And don't get me started on the prose. The prose! Ack.

The Lion examined his reflection in the mirror scrupulously, running a hand through his hair.

Who is the most dangerous man? The brave man? The wise man? The rich man?

None of these, sir. It is the mediocre man.

Why?

Because he is invisible.

No one would remember anything special about him, the Lion decided. Nothing he didn't want them to, anyway. Done up like this, he would look just how he was supposed to look for where he was going.

When he was not on a job, the Lion was a snappy dresser. He spent a lot of money on his clothes, but he felt it was worth it. He didn't talk much so he let his clothes show what kind of man he was. They drew attention to him, made people remember him, hid his other identity. And he liked to look good, liked the way women eyed him, then blushed. He liked it a lot; it gave him satisfaction.

Not like this, though. Not like the satisfaction of being the Lion.

The Lion was, in his own opinion, the best killer in London.

Uhm... okay. That was from Secret Admirer. In this one, the Lion kills Tuesday Arlington's husband. Tuesday sees it all in some dream, and she paints out the scene. So when husband is dead, she is the prime suspect. Lawrence Pickering, our hero, sleeps with her anyway. Trust? Who cares? Put in some sex scenes and let's call it "romance".

But that's okay if the mystery is plausible, but it's pathetic. It's so linear, so Scooby-Doo, where our gruesome twosome are the only smart ones to see very obvious clues, that I just can't stop cringing or laughing.

More fun excerpts:

Ha ha ha he laughs. Then he says, "No way you'll get over the wall, is there? And I've locked the gate. May as well stop and get ready for what's coming. You'll need all your strength to pray for mercy, you heartless bitch."



What is the loudest sound?

A whisper

What is the most powerful weapon?

Cunning

What is the most powerful path to control?

Fear

Very good. I think you are ready.

"I think so too, master," the Lion said to his reflection in the mirror.

I make a dog-ear on every page that has some silly and hilariously written passage, and when I'm done, the book looks like a mess. The author has a fondness of making her characters asking stupid questions and answering them - not just the Lion, but everybody in this story.

Who's the boss?

Not Michele Jaffe, that's for sure. Ha ha ha.

Ahem. The dialogs are so bad they make Snidely Whiplash look like a Nobel Laureate. ("Ha ha ha he laughs.") Characterization is pathetic - Tuesday is the quintessential moron who blames herself for her husband's death (oh, if she was a better wife, etc) and runs straight into danger like a drugged-up Counselor Troy who "feels something". Pure hilarity.

Lady Killer is slightly better, but not much. The prologue where the killer "Vampire" describes his feelings is priceless. The ending line "God it was good to be back" never fails to crack me up (think Al Pacino in a vampire drag costume). This time around, Clio Thornton is some stupid sleuth (ha ha ha I laugh) who stumbles upon the Vampire's victim. She's marked as the next victim now... right? Hero Miles London, who is trying to kill the Vampire, protects her.

Lots of silly sex then ensue. I don't know why they are having sex, but they're doing it, so I guess that's "romance", right? As usual, Clio is the dumb wanton noodle git who walks along dark paths, et cetera, while Miles is just hilarious as some tortured guy who listens to voices of the Vampire's victims castigating him in his head.

Ms Jaffe has no subtlety at all. She uses CAPITAL LETTERS to mark someone's screaming ("No. NO. I did love you. I tried. I TRIED!!!" - gee, Ms Jaffe has been hanging around some fangirl boards for too long, I see - "It won't happen again. No it won't. IT WON'T IT WON'T IT WON'T IT - " ha ha ha I laugh), and best of all, her attempts to portray Miles' tortured psyche, capital letters and too many exclamation marks and all, just comes off like a hysterical loon getting her hands on a Words program and a publishing contract.

Seriously, I've never laughed so hard in my life reading this book. What is Ballantine and Ms Jaffe thinking when they put these two books out? The language prowess is one of drunk lil' tykes trying to write their first composition in pre-school, the mystery is hopelessly inept, and the whole affair is laughably bad.

Really, if Ms Jaffe is that big a celebrity, why not just do what publishing houses usually do for celebrity books? Go hire a ghostwriter, for freaking sake. Lady Killer and Secret Admirer is a double combo of unbelievably bad writing and shoddy plotting that I feel embarrassed for everyone who has their names involved in this book.

Rating: 11 for Secret Admirer and 20 for Lady Killer


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