Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Deep Freeze" by Lisa Jackson

Jenna Hughes is a former Hollywood actress who has retired after an on-set accident killed her sister and resulted in her last movie never being released. She moves to Oregon for a new life as caring mother, but daughters Cassie and Allie aren't terribly pleased with the decision. It's a decision that Jenna herself will come to regret as she is targeted by a madman obsessed with her and her movies. He's kidnapping women to use as molds for recreations of Jenna's most famous film characters, setting up a twisted shrine for her. When Jenna receives threatening notes and eerie phone calls, it attracts the attention of Sheriff Shane Carter. He's quickly attracted to Jenna while investigating the case, and knows the culprit is somebody close to her.

It's a pity that so many female crime writers start off in the world of category romance, because while it obviously teaches them how to become good writers, they simply can't shake off the need to incorporate a cliched romance into their story. Lisa Jackson has a unique ability to conjure up a spooky scenario - being stalked in a snowy forest, checking out a dark, empty house - without mincing words. Most writers will spend ages describing every little thing, sapping away the suspense. But I'll admit there were a couple of times during "Deep Freeze" where I got mildly spooked - and for me, that's saying something.

However, when it comes to the romance side of things, Jackson simply cannot find enough words. What could have been a tight, fast-paced story about a woman being stalked is spread out over 500 pages. And, I'm not kidding you, most of the word count is devoted to Jenna and Shane's musings about each other.

Jenna: What was she thinking? She shouldn't be having these fantasies about the rugged, good-looking lawman! She had too much on her plate! She was being stalked by a madman!

Shane: What was he thinking? He shouldn't be having these fantasies about the sexy, vulnerable Hollywood princess! He had too much on his plate! He was tracking down a kidnapper and killer!

The book is permeated with variations of these statements over and over and over again. Did this thing even have an editor? To make things worse, the romance doesn't even come across as genuine. It's more than obvious these two are only getting together because the plot dictates it. We're told over and over again how great these two believe the other to be, but never actually shown. Shane seems to determine that Jenna is an "intriguing" woman simply because she comes into the station to report a stalker. I determined Jenna to be an uppity, judgemental cow. She eyes every single male character with distrust and decides most of them to be weirdos, without sufficient reason (except for Shane, that is). I understand that this would partly have to do with making sure there are plenty of red herrings, but it's a little ridiculous. In the real world people would be telling her to get over herself. And besides, I picked out the bad guy the moment he was introduced.

I'm not going to recommend "Deep Freeze". Thanks to Jenna and Shane being such drips and unable to come to any quick decision regarding their feelings, the narrative meanders far too much. In fact, the same fault can be found in our killer. He's endlessly musing: "I'll come for you soon, Jenna!" Well, buddy, hurry the hell up! What's keeping you? Sheesh.

1 comment:

  1. Well there's two days of your life you'll never get back. I hate useless romances, much prefer things like coroner Maura whatsername and the guilt-ridden priest. I've had a brilliant week bookwise. I read SJ Bolton's Sacrifice, couldn't put it down, was up until 4am (yes, me).