Finding Mary Blaine
by Jodi Thomas, contemporary (2004)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 0-7783-2064-2


Jodi Thomas jumps on the romantic suspense bandwagon in an abrupt transition that surprises me as her previous contemporary romance has women's fiction leanings. The muse sure works in strange ways, eh? Finding Mary Blaine, unfortunately, is a bizarre story hanging from a thin thread when it comes to plausibility and the plethora of unimaginative Noble Homeless People stereotypes - enough to turn Michael Moore into a raging Republican - populating this story is the nail in the coffin where I am concerned. What is this? Carebears in Pleasantville meets A Killer Among The Green Party Congregation?

Blaine Anderson is a beautiful trophy wife of Mark, an attorney with political ambitions. She is a woman who is scared of pretty much everything, teaches doormats in her very own special training school, and she is pregnant. She knows that Mark doesn't want to be tied down with squalling brats and all that so she doesn't know how to tell him. She visits a clinic one day to make sure that she is really pregnant - no, dear pro-lifers, she's not going to get an abortion, don't worry - when the clinic is bombed, apparently by pro-lifers. I wonder whether Dubya will now declare these right-wingers part of the axis of evil too. Nah, he'll just blame it on Saddam, as usual.

Here is where things take a turn into Planet Oh-My-God-What-On-Earth-Is-This. She stumbles in an unbelievable manner into the realization that the whole bombing is a plot to kill her. Of course, she can't tell the police and she can't go home either so she hides in a homeless shelter under the name Mary Blaine. I especially love that last part. It's like Dubya hiding from Michael Moore and his pitchfork in a rehab clinic under the name Mark Dubya - no one will suspect anything, what an ingenious fake name!

Naturally, on the streets where you may not have a home and you sleep in a box but Life Is Bee-yoo-ti-fool anyway, a plethora of Oliver-Twistian noble street people stereotypes rally to help Blaine transform from a Republican trophy wife into a raging leftie. Meanwhile, Mark realizes that now that his wife is "dead", he loves her but oh, it's too late, sob sob sob. He starts connecting with the people who love Blaine, like Happy Old People Who Know Money Isn't Important But Love Is who conveniently live nearby to wave the peacecakes around.

The romantic suspense is as expected pretty flimsy and the romance isn't a romance as much as it is Ms Thomas' overwrought ode to some overly-simplistic Green Party version of a world where money doesn't matter and everyone can live on the streets and still be happy because in America, everything should be free. Or something. Quite appropriately, I guess, this book is published right around the time Michael Moore makes a movie that is actually a moving picture version of his book Dude, Where's My Country? (I feel cheated paying for the book as well as the movie but that's another story). Is all of this a huge Green conspiracy? Heaven knows. I'm afraid I can't bring myself to care.

Rating: 64


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