Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Almost Dead" by Lisa Jackson

"Almost Damn Dead" is probably a more appropriate title here, as "damn" is about the third most used word after "the" and "and". It's not that I'm a prude or anything - have you seen some of the stuff I read? - but the use of the word is so frequent and so obvious that it's really distracting. How could it get past an editor? Remove "damn" from here and you can cut the book by about 30 pages. Seriously.

The plot has Cissy Cahill spooked by the fact that her evil mother has escaped from prison. Suddenly, members of her family begin to die. We the reader know that the mother has an accomplice, but as for Cissy and her ex-husband Jack Holt, they are clueless as to who might want to off the entire Cahill clan. As for Cissy's mother, we're never actually told what she did to get into prison in the first place, nor the intricate details of how she managed to escape, either. The plot makes some very lame attempts to cast suspicion on Cissy and Jack themselves, but this book sticks so rigidly to the romantic suspense formula that you know nothing is ever going to come of it. About the only saving grace here is that Cissy and Jack already know each other (they are on the verge of divorce), rather than having them meet and fall in love simply because the author wants them to (the problem faced by Jackson's "Deep Freeze"). However, Jack doesn't have much of a personality, and Cissy is so unpleasant and self-centred it's hard to figure out why anyone would want to spend time in her company, personality or not. At the funeral of her grandmother, whom she admits she didn't even like much, she behaves as if she's the only person who has a right to the mourn the woman, dismissing everybody's condolences. She ultimately snubs her neighbour, who while at times is a little overbearing, has never been anything but nice to her. Cissy concludes that her neighbour is a catty bitch who wants to steal her husband away. Then there's the babysitter Tanya, who does a bang-up, professional job, whom Cissy simply dislikes because she can. When Tanya tells Cissy that she's quitting because she doesn't like working for her and thinks she should see a shrink, I was going: "Right on!" I kept hoping it would be Cissy that wound up with a bullet between the eyes rather than most of the ancillary characters.

I always try to say something positive about a book, because there's no fun in constant negativity (or is there?), but I'm struggling here. While I managed to finish the damn thing (ha ha), the whole product was hugely damaged by having such an odious main character. Combine that with a flimsy plot (someone remind me again exactly what Cissy's mother went to prison for), a writer seriously short of adjectives (maybe try "old couch" instead of "damn couch"), and a romance that feels like it's there simply because it has to be, and you have a damn stupid book that takes too damn long to read and DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!!!

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