Saturday, June 19, 2010

"Superstition" by Karen Robards

Reporter Nicky Sullivan thinks the big break in her career will be a live broadcast of a seance in the house where three teenage girls mysteriously disappeared fifteen years ago. The seance is lead by Leonora James, Nicky's own mother, a famous psychic. Also on hand to make sure nothing goes wrong - his attempts to shut the seance down were unsuccessful - is police chief Joe Franconi, who is haunted by a ghost of his own, literally.

During the broadcast, a woman is murdered, and Nicky also comes very close to losing her life. As more murders occur, she must team up with Joe to discover the truth, while battling her attraction to him.

If the book cover didn't tell me otherwise, I would have thought this was written by Karen Rose or Lisa Jackson. Except even those two provide a bit more plot than what can be found here. The solutions to the two mysteries (the events of fifteen years ago and the events of now) are wrapped up so arbitrarily in the last part of the book that Robards could easily have claimed aliens did it all and it wouldn't have made much difference. Most of this, as can be expected, is devoted to the developing romance between Nicky and Joe. The latter is a yawn-inducing, cliche-ridden typical alpha male, and I could barely remember much about him once the book was finished. The former is okay as far as female protagonists go, but her attitude towards the supernatural quickly gets weary. If anybody dare suggest they are a non-believer, she behaves like a snotty child who thinks her viewpoint is the only valid one. Not the quality one would expect in a REPORTER, for God's sake.

The supernatural element is the other part of this novel that just doesn't work. The fact that Joe has a ghost - Brian Sawyer - haunting him comes across as cheesy. Making it part of what helps him and Nicky connect is even cheesier. Either plant your novel in the real world, or make the "ghosts"/supernatural element a central, non-disputeable part of the plot. I like ghost stories. I don't like stories that dance around the idea to fill up space. The presence of some scary ghosts could have perhaps made this book a little more interesting. I stress - PERHAPS.

Yet another author too scared to abandon the rigid formula of romance novels (does anybody remember the day when the love interest could also be a suspect?), Karen Robards delivers a by-the-numbers romantic thriller with clunky pacing and even clunkier plotting.

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