Flamingo Diner
by Sherryl Woods, contemporary (2003)
MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-722-3


Perhaps there should be a medal given to authors like Sherryl Woods that offer a book that so perfectly captures the essence of the phrase "deja vu". Flamingo Diner has its own plot and its own characters, but it feels like every other inept big-family and romantic-suspense hybrid book out there put out by authors jumping on the romantic suspense bandwagon that hurtled off at full speed early this year and slowing down fast as the chick-lit bandwagon departed two months ago and speeding up fast. Such industrious flexibility in adapting to marketing trends to create perfect examples to the Great Generic should be commended, I guess, although in what way I can't fathom yet.

Emma Killian takes over the family diner (you have one chance to guess its name) after her father died. Was it murder? Was it suicide? Needless to say, she blames herself for eye-rolling reasons, her brothers blame her, and her mother just stays in bed all day long. One brother is doing drugs. The other brother is angry. There has to a cop in here, you say? Meet the hero, Matt Atkins. He's the former bad boy made good.

Everyone here seems to come straight out of a cheap low-budget TV movie central casting. The romance is uninspired and lacklustre, not to mention predictable, and the "suspense" is what "suspense" tends to be when written by authors that really can't do "suspense" well. The suspense is wallpaper, same as the romance, trying to mask the fact that Flamingo Diner is unoriginal, far from fresh, and completely derivative. This book makes being completely nondescript seems like a very easy thing to do.

Rating: 56


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