Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Cutline" by Bonnie Hearn Hill

Geri LaRue is a partially deaf journalist who arrives in San Francisco for a new job, only to find that her roommate Leta Blackburn has gone missing. Leta is also a journalist, and was secretly working on a story involving the death of a priest. She'd recently interviewed troubled film star Harry Miller, and was researching the topic of "erotomania", the psychological problem that affects stalkers - they believe the person they are pursuing is in love with them. The psychiatrist helping Leta with her research is Dr. Malcolm Piercy, so both he and Harry are first on Geri's list of people to question.

With Leta's disappearance now big news, and its possible connection to the priest's murder - and some other murders, Geri is able to score some decent jobs thanks to the fact she knew Leta personally. As she quickly develops feelings for Malcolm, he reveals that he believes the killer is a woman, and that the victims are all men she thought were in love with her - an erotomaniac! Geri soon discovers that when her colleague told her everybody has secrets, he was more than right. Everybody in her life has some sort of connection to Leta, all with a possible motive to want her to disappear. On top of that, the killer is still out there, offing more men that she believes want to be with her forever.

Trying to write the synopsis for this romantic thriller reinforced just how ridiculous and nonsensical the whole thing was. Just how the Razor Killer, as the book dubs her, manages to find the time to develop intense relationships with several different men over just a few days is never really explained. Why was the killer trying to establish a link between their killings and the suicide of another of Malcolm's patients? It plays heavily in the story and is also never explained. Why was she going after all these men and not the man who caused her to snap in the first place? I won't reveal the identity of the man, as that would be a spoiler, but once again - never explained! It would seem the author threw all these disparate threads together and didn't really care if they tied up adequately.

The other main issue is the protagonist herself. I really couldn't stand her. She has a real chip on her shoulder about being partially deaf. The author tries to explain her stinky attitude, but can't really pull it off. Geri keeps claiming she wants to be treated like a "normal" person, so never tells anybody about her condition. Yet she gets all pissy when people take her to be cold and standoffish when she doesn't respond to them. It's because she can't hear them - but how the hell are they supposed to know that? Her overuse of the words "crikey" and "cool beans" was similarly irritating to the point of distraction. Her romance with Malcolm never once comes across as being genuine or believable. He seems far too, well, stupid to be a psychiatrist and Geri is far too immature (and she's supposed to be twenty-eight for God's sake) to hold any sort of job with even a modicum of responsibility. She would be more believable as an empty-headed party girl heiress. A romance between her and colleague Steffan Kim would have been far more credible, as there is some actual chemistry between them, but God forbid a romantic suspense thriller feature a relationship between its heroine and a non-white man!

"Cutline" is a clumsily plotted mystery with ill-defined characters. It took me a long time to finish because I didn't much care for anybody or what happened to them.

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this book right now & hating it! I love this author, but this book is dragging on forever! I just want to know who did it alway so I can move onto my next book. I also read a TON of books & agree that there are NO good book review sites. I'm constantly wanting to find one. I'm turning my blog into a book review blog if you are interested. I read between 7-10 books a week. Thanks 4 ur amazing blog!