May 19 2006
I bought this book at Elibron.com. Elibron carries no cover images and no descriptions so my purchase was based solely on a) the name and b) the publisher. I was in the mood for something chick lit and I was buying something else at the time . . . Oh, Hot Ticket. Gah. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for when I started reading your book. By the end of the first chapter, I was well and truly hooked and stayed engaged the entire book.
The mystery was great. The heroine was great. The dialogue was great, even if the cute sexy exchanges happened between the heroine and a guy who may or may not be out to kill her. The setting is San Francisco and that, in and of itself, was fresh for me. I hadn’t realized that there were major urban areas in the United States other than the East Coast!
Sophie Katz is a mystery writer who has three books (all NYT bestsellers) under her belt and a screenplay deal in the works. Her two friends, Dena, a sex shop owner, and Mary Ann, a cosmetic counter worker, come over to break the news to Sophie that her screenplay is probably not going to happen due to the producer killing himself. Only Sophie doesn’t see it as a suicide because she had just had contact with the producer a couple weeks earlier and he did not appear to be depressed. Sophie also has suspicions because the suicide scene is set exactly like a scene out of one of the producer’s own movies.
Following on the heels of that bad news are the strange hangups and letter that Sophie receives that says “You reap what you sow.” Sophie initially thinks nothing of it but the more strange things happen, the more concerned that Sophie gets that someone may be trying to reenact her first story: Sex, Drugs and Murder. She further begins to suspect that a rapper’s death (JJ Money in NY) was done by the same person who did in the producer in LA and who appears to be trying to off Sophie. You did a great job of creating a number of suspects: Was it Andy, the slow minded stock clerk at the corner grocery, who had a strong crush on Sophie. Was it Jason, the new boyfriend of her friend Dena, who believes he may be a vampire. Or was it Anatoly, the hot Russian/Israeli immigrant with the big hands that Sophie would like all over her body? Anatoly, along with being Sophie’s possible killer, is also an asshole from time to time and his humanity made him all the more appealing.
The book’s biggest asset is the charming, witty dialogue. You know how in real life, you don’t ever have the best comeback until 5 minutes later? Authors have that 5 minute come back luxury. When I read a book, I want the dialogue to sing to me the chorus of “I wish I had said that.” Yours is the Harlem Choir. Let’s give some examples, hmm:
I examined myself in the side-view mirror. “I don't care if you are gay, I still want to marry you. I'll support you, do your laundry, turn my head when you bring home male companionship–"all you have to do is my hair every day of the week and I'll be satisfied.”
“Honey, the only thing I want to do every day of the week is Ricky Martin. Are you ready to eat?”
“Your first book is about castrating your ex?”
“Well, it's supposed to be about another woman castrating and killing a whole bunch of men, but if you read between the lines, yes. It's a book about me castrating and killing my ex-husband.”
Anatoly grinned and swallowed some more beer. “So you write fantasies.”
“You were in the Israeli army?”
“Of course, it's mandatory service.” He paused to drink. “I was in the Russian army too.”
“Oh my God, you're a mercenary.”
“I was a citizen of both countries.”
“Okay, but two armies? I don't know. There's something odd about that.”
“Most women find it exciting.”
“Are these the same women who developed a crush on Steven Segal?”
I did manage to figure out in the middle of the book who it was that had “done” it because you gave away a huge tell. I say “huge” because I am not the most clever of readers and if I got it, so must everyone else. There were a couple of other nitpicky things that bothered me. First, Sophie had only written three books but you made it seem that she had been around forever (fans say to her “I’ve read all your books”). Second, for a mystery writer, Sophie made a lot procedural mistakes (allowing Anatoly to drive her car to the police station after it had been vandalized, trying to pick up a piece of evidence at a crime scene). But those were really minor things. B+ for you.