White Mountain
by Dinah McCall, contemporary (2002)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-894-7


My worst nightmare has come true. My husband's first act upon retirement is to buy a karaoke machine, and worse, a disc of Andrew Lloyd Webber and other musical "Greatest Hits" thingie. I tell you, alleycats have nothing on my husband's agonizing straining to hit the high notes on Memory. If any of our neighbors jump, we know who is to be blamed.

But seriously, seeking solace in books like White Mountain is no help. I got so bored that I ended up joining husband in warbling Memory and Tell Me On Sunday. We are so sad, really.

And I blame Dinah McCall for my descend into shame.

This is a romantic suspense, which basically means it's nonsense time. The story starts quite grippingly, when a retired Russian agent comes out of retirement to do some last-minute sniping down of defected secret/double agents/scientists in America. One by one, this circle of old coots go down.

Innkeeper and first class moron Isabella is close to these old coots, or rather, some of them, and she has no idea why they are all dropping dead like termites after a visit from the exterminator. When FBI agent Jack Dolan - it's always FBI agents named Jack, it's either Jack or Sam, isn't it? - pokes around, sparks fly.

Isabella still has no clue what is going on.

Jack does a gung-ho job in saving her up and down, left and right, and I kinda like his instant attraction to Isabella that plunges right into stalkerish obsession soon enough. Now that's sexy.

But Isabella still hasn't gotten a clue.

She weeps, she sighs, she moans, and she is desperately seeking a new Daddy figure in her life. Her first appearence in the story has her holding back tears at a funeral, and she ends this story still barely having a clue as to what just happened. The world is falling, but Isabella is moaning because Jack doesn't want to kiss her so omigosh, she must be so ugly and oh, no man will ever want to impregnate her with fat chubby babies! Spare me.

Jack is a stock FBI dude character with the usual Guilt and Baggages, but he's okay, because he's proactive, you know. He does something, which is what romantic suspense is all about, right? But Isabella, first class nitwit, has no character development - she is just an ignorant cipher, worse, she doesn't even try to find out what is going on. In short, a moron.

I notice this trend in this author's "romantic suspense" - the heroines tend to be passive, hapless IQ-frozen dolls in need of constant rescuing. Maybe she's targetting this book to gung-ho men who love their heroines helpless and porcelein-doll like. But then she will have to do a better job than her transparent "suspense", because Jack's unconvincing "manly" way of speaking will surely turn off any male reader from get go.

Anyway, this book is boring, and the heroine irritates me silly. Let me join hubby in our congress of shame as we pull down the curtains, grab the microphones, and massacre I Don't Know How To Love Him. If the cops knock on our door, it's not us, it's the poltergeists haunting our apartment.

Rating: 56


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