Thursday, July 30, 2009

Serial Killers: Part II

I tried another cozy mystery series. It had a few problems in Book1, but I could chalk that up to freshman jitters. 2nd book, about the same. By Books 3-4, it only got worse. So, I won't be seeing how she does on Book 8 or 9 like I will with Sookie.

What were the problems?

-Two characters in particular almost always use each other's names in dialogue. "Hi, John, won't you sit down?" "Thanks, Jill. That's nice of you." "Don't mention it, John. Did you find out anything about that clue we found yesterday?" "Why yes I did, Jill. Let me tell you about it." And so on. Annoying.

-She likes her protag too much. I can relate to this. My critique group is always telling me I don't beat up my protagonist enough. But I have someone who tells me this, and I fix it. This girl gets everything she wants. I can't relate to that. She even has a "mean breed" dog that no one ever acts nervous around.

-By Book 2, she established that any new characters coming into the circle of friends would be the victim. If 2 new people arrive, one is the victim and the other is the killer. And it's obvious which is which. So why read past the first chapter?

-Doesn't even come close to real police procedure. The protagonist (not in law enforcement) has nabbed a couple murderers by secretly taping them confessing. And apparently this has held up in court. In the most recent one, a key piece of evidence was buried under debri at the crime scene. The police neglected to search thoroughly so it was found during the owner of the property's clean-up. The item so upset the owner that the protag took it back to her house. Then she called a retired detective, after major handling of the thing, who carried it back to his place before taking it in. Can you say "chain of evidence"? Yeah, thought so.

What could save this series for me? Well, start adhering at least a little bit to the realities of what would and wouldn't be admitted into evidence for starters. Then kill off one of the inner circle. There are now about 6 couples (everyone eventually pairs off in this series) and a few incidental characters (who are married, but the spouse hasn't been seen yet). It's getting crowded. It would shake things up nicely, and make any threat more, well, threatening.

But I won't be around to see it. It's too bad. There was potential there. For a while I'm switching back to other genres. Right now I'm reading The Time Traveler's Wife. Present tense bugged me for about two paragraphs, and then I realized it has to be that way. Pulled in hook, line and sinker. Hope it pays off.


Fleur Bradley said...

I hate it when an author adds the name to damn near every bit of dialogue. Huge pet peeve. On TV, it's almost keeping me from watching Lost (try counting how many times Benjamin says John--nuff said).
Will be interested how you like The Time Travelers Wife; I haven't read it yet, but am curious.

Jenny said...

I am also reading The Time Traveler's Wife. I actually loved the present tense because it was so perfect for telling the story. Sometimes, the artsy thing to do is the right thing to do.