Well I’ve been going on about everything except books for the last week so I thought I’d share a recent read that I feel maybe ‘one to avoid’. It’s the first in a series and it’s called How to Murder a Millionaire.
Many moons ago I went on a writing course and one of the speakers gave a talk on how to write a Mills and Boon book. First she asked who in the room was hoping to be published by Mills and Boon. 90% of listeners raised their hands, then she asked ‘who loves reading Mills and Boon?’ 2 people raised their hands. Just 2. I think this problem is seeping into cosies, people who neither love nor wholly understand the genre are beginning to eye the it feeling it is formulaic and easy to write. Maybe due to demand some get published that shouldn’t. Signet have published this effort by Nancy Martin and it has slightly put me off the publisher particularly as Lorna Barratt is a stablemate.
OK so what’s wrong with it?
Well the mystery is completely lacking as the romance is upfront and centre, even Mills and Boon would find the way Abruzzo is described too Mills and Boon, it’s tedious and intrusive. Martin has completely forfeited the mystery elements, and I feel it’s because she is more interested in the story arc and a lucrative series rather than the job in hand. The book is surprisingly full of sexist statements such as “belly button flash of teenager…hard-edged sex of the stiletto feminists” sexist trite abounds because the author has relied totally on stereotypes for her characters. The sexy, dangerous Italian love interest, rich witch suspect, flaky earth-mother Libby (has 4 children), sexy, hard-edged Emma (rides a motorbike). It’s all very silly, and Martin’s main character comes across as a bit of a snob, actually it’s worse – she comes across as a snob who thinks she is witty. The plotting is none existent, this is the first cosy I have ever read where there are no clues. How the friendly heck the heroine is supposed to work out who the killer is beyond me which results in the most ridiculous ending ever. “Aha” says Nora “I know who did it!” but we aren’t told how she works it out or what the evidence is. She just magically realises who it is – probably because the author hit her word count. To add insult to injury it’s not just the heroine who gets trapped by the killer – all of the female characters need rescuing. Honestly. All cosies need plots and clues and a logical denouement, this has none of those.
I think Martin was trying to be ‘frothy’ and considers herself a bit of a wit, I find it rather telling that she spends a lot of time trying to sell TV rights. I don’t like being so negative about a writer but I do feel that our money would be better spent on other books.