This just didn't work for me. It was cute enough, I guess -- and the solution was pretty clever (although I saw the heart of it very early on). But at the end of the day, it just wasn't well-written. I'm getting ahead of myself a bit.
Here's the gist of the book, from the Publisher's Description:
Greg Monroe writes romance novels under the nom de plume Ginny Madison. That’s what he’s “gotta do”. What he wants to do is write mysteries; hard-boiled mysteries with bite. But his publisher tells him his mysteries lack originality, his plots are simplistic and his characters... well, they just aren’t real.
Complicating matters, Greg’s live-in Uncle George brings home an attractive new housekeeper. Hattie Fulton is intelligent, capable, resourceful and not who she pretends to be.
But before Greg can uncover the truth behind the attractive Hattie Fulton, Uncle George becomes the main suspect in a real murder mystery. Suddenly thrust into the role of a real detective, Greg digs into the mystery hoping to prove his uncle’s innocence while at the same time struggling to meet his next publishing deadline. And surprisingly, Greg’s fictional plots suddenly become edge-of-the seat compelling and his characters take on a life of their own. If you discount the strong resemblance to both Hattie and Greg and the sparks that are flying between them.
Now all Greg has to do in order to clear his uncle, finish the best mystery novel he’s ever written and win over his housekeeper is uncover the real murderer, without revealing to everyone that he’s really a romance writer pretending to be a mystery writer.Sounds like a straight-to-DVD Rom Com, doesn't it?
Greg, simply put, is a chauvinist. Mystery novels are "real 'guy's' books" and no guy should come anywhere near a romance novel. He's doing well enough writing full-time under a nom de plume
to afford a nice house for himself and his uncle, which can't be easy. Yet, somehow, someone who thinks, "I mean what the hell does a guy know about romance? Beer, sports, guns. That’s guy stuff. Romance; female stuff." Can write well enough for a female audience to support himself, despite a lousy work ethic. I guess it's the Melvin Udall
-phenomenon. He's really pathetic, professionally and personally -- if not for his uncle, it'd be easy to see him holed-up in his house forever.
Uncle George is a fire-cracker of a guy, pushing Greg into the world by any means necessary. Beyond his healthy nest-egg, poker buddies and bookie, he has a pretty full life on his own -- think Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur, but more together and grounded.
Hattie? Hattie's a fantasy come to life -- a knockout who can drive, shoot, take down bad guys with a couple of martial arts and cook. Did I mention she was hot?
And these are the well-drawn characters. The murder suspects are stock characters, as are the mobsters that Greg runs into. The police detectives are worse.
I really don't want this to turn in to a litany of complaints, because I've really covered the major ones already, but I do have a few more, that I'll just list without too much expansion:
- The samples of Greg's writing are, like almost every fictional example of someone's fiction, are over-written. More adjectives and adverbs than any published author would use, lousy dialogue, unnatural vocabulary choices. This tendency occasionally spills over into the narrative, too.
- Gehrke seems incapable of writing out the words "Lieutenant" and "Sergeant." Sorry, man, but only using abbreviations? That's just lazy.
- Along the same line -- this thing is just riddled with typos. Most are forgivable/easy to ignore. But there are some that are just nasty. If Gehrke got "losing"/"lose" right once, it slipped by me. Sure, it seems minor -- but if you have to re-read the sentence because the wrong word (i.e., "loosing"/"loose") was used, it takes you out of the moment.
- Greg, George and Hattie spend so, so, so much time bantering about their choice of words in conversation it gets annoying. If he used that joke maybe one-third (or less) as often as he did, it could be amusing. But he just goes to that well too often, and it's off-putting.
The murder mystery itself was well done. The steps that Greg and the rest went through to solve it were pretty rambling and chaotic -- but they were supposed to be. The tone was generally right -- except when he wrote the same joke 15 times.
Cute enough, like I said, and pretty amusing. It's the literary equivalent of the straight-to-DVD Rom Com I mentioned earlier. Goodbye Ginny Madison
is entertaining enough to justify the time -- just entertaining enough. Still, if you're looking for novel about a rookie detective on his first murder case, check out Jim Cliff'sThe Shoulders of Giants