by BD Joyce, historical (2001)
St Martin's Press, $6.50, ISBN 0-312-97767-0
Another author decides to do a JD Robb/Nora Roberts thing and write a suspense series under another pseudonym (watch out for Amanda Quick's own take on this lucrative authorial schizophrenia come April 2001). Unfortunately, Brenda Joyce's historical mystery debut, writing as BD Joyce, is surprisingly devoid of any charismatic characters. And for a book that is supposed to hook me into buying the next twenty or so Francesca Cahill mystery novels, this is not a good thing.
Francesca Cahill is a sheltered young girl with the usual fussy momma and airhead sister living in early 20th century New York City. Her hobby is attending suffragette demonstrations and playing Nancy Drew. When her neighbor's son is kidnapped, she stumbles upon the ransom note. And like they say, a star is born. Fran crosses path with police commissioner Rick Bragg, and I'm sure that these two will boink eventually. Not in this book though, so feel free to take hostages whoever the idiots at St Martin's are that decided to label Deadly Love a romance.
Francesca's youth and idealism can be used to excuse some of the really stupid "lemme run in dark lanes alone" antics she indulges in, but she's more of the myopic, wide-eyed clueless investigator than a shrewd Miss Murder She Wrote. The back cover blurb has Ms Joyce using the word stumbles and Francesca in the same sentence in her personal message to her fans, and trust me, the author is dead on when it comes to that accurate use of the adjective. Fran has her charms, but her wide-eyed Ms Maple act can be irritating at times.
But Rick Bragg? What a surprisingly uninteresting character. A stereotypical alpha dude with ten times the psychological distancing, he is a dull figure. The plot has a twist involving his role in the revelation that leaves a rather inexplicable bitter taste in my mouth.
The secondary characters and the mystery are more interesting than Rick or Fran. Fran and Rick are rather samey, familiar characters with the same old personality and baggages I've read before. All in all, as a grand start to a new series, Deadly Love is a rather non-happening party. It's adequate, the entertainment is okay, but I'm sure I've read better before somewhere.
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