A film crew has arrived in Bath to make a new film about the city's 18th century heroine, Jane Austen. To the satisfaction of hotel owner and police liaison officer Honey Driver, some of the visitors are staying at the Green River Hotel, bringing some welcome low-season business. Plus, there's the thrilling possibility that Honey and her daughter Lindsay might be cast as extras....
But then the film's star, the impossibly demanding Martyna Manderley, is found dead, and Honey finds she's landed her own starring role - as prime suspect. DI Steve Doherty, Honey's new and as yet tantalisingly unexplored love interest, races to the rescue, and the pair embark on a mission to uncover the truth.
©2009 Jean Goodhind; (P)2009 Soundings
This mystery never quite got off the ground, with unconvincing characters, improbable plot points, weak dialogue, and too much innuendo and not enough sex (I know that sounds bizarre, but the detective couple in question made banal sexual allusions almost every time they spoke, romantic competition was introduced but never developed, and actual physical contact between the couple was minimal). It was like listening to my aged granny talking dirty. Either leave the sex out or make it grind, but stop with the annoying, interminable banter.
The premise is that the police get on with their own investigation into a murder on a film set in Bath while the civilian goes about her own sleuthing and, obviously, solves it.
It could have been fine in those terms as I am more than happy to listen to cosy crime as well as more realistic crime novels. I don't expect deep characterisation but in return for that I do feel there ought to be some charm about the story, some whimsy. However, this one fails with me for a few reasons.
The main character, Honey Driver (really), tries to pass for sardonic but from the moment she appears she is profoundly annoying and not a character I want to spend time with, as I think she ought to be for this type of story. The writer may have been trying for fun-loving older woman but sadly failed.
Worse than that, her tenuous reason for being involved in the investigation at all seems to be just an excuse to include a constant theme running through the book of her flirtatious relationship with the police inspector. Sadly, they play out their flirtation with the worst sort of innuendo-strewn conversation, not coarse but smutty and very childish and wearing to hear.
I think the narrator was trying her best to give the main character some redeeming features but sadly her voicing of the male characters didn't work for me. They all sounded like bumptious teenagers trying to speak like adults.
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