Saturday, January 9, 2010

Missing Mark, by Julie Kramer

My first mystery of 2010, Missing Mark is by an author new to me, and I was excited that I might have found a new source of enjoyable leisure reading. Kramer's character (this is the second in a series) is Riley Spartz, an investigative reporter for a television station in Minneapolis. In Chapter 1, she finds a body in a house she is thinking of buying--by Chapter 2, we learn that body really has nothing to do with the book's plot, the first sign there may be some problems with the writing. But Riley gets the idea for the story that is the primary focus of the book in an intriguing way--she sees an ad in the newspaper that reads "For Sale. Wedding Dress. Never Worn" and thinks there must be a story behind the item. Little does she know...the story of the cancelled wedding involves a missing comedian groom, a bride who cannot recognize faces, multiple deaths, and general mayhem. As subplots, Riley also investigates the theft of a large bass from the aquarium at the Mall of America and the goings-on at her neighbor's house, takes care of a police dog whose partner has been shot, and vacillates over whether to start a romance with a cop-turned-security expert.

Kramer seems to be aiming for a madcap, humorous tone--not as over the top as Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, but perhaps along the lines of Sarah Shankman's old Samanatha Adams books (whatever happened to Sarah Shankman?). The humor is thin, however, and the plotting strains credulity. The clues Kramer drops, especially regarding the neighbor, are so obvious that only an idiot would not notice them. Thus, it's hard not to conclude that Riley is indeed an idiot (she does, after all, reference the movie Speed as a source of life lessons).

Favorite passage:
During much of our converation, Mrs. Lefevre sounded as hardy as a perennial, but Malik and I soon learned she was actually soft as a pansy.

Yes, it's my favorite because it's so bad!

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