Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wicked Business by Janet Evanovitch

I said in my last review that Headline has been extending my reading beyond its usual boundaries. Janet Evanovitch is an author I've never read, so when Wicked Business turned up I didn't really know what to expect. I've seen lots of people enthusing about her books but mentally consigned them to the category "books-I-don't-read", thinking, I guess, that they would be too chicklit-y. I'm rather snobbish about chicklit but the worst thing about it, I usually feel, is that it's written for people younger than me, and is mostly about airheads. I mean, I don't exactly need fiction to always include a discussion of the categorical imperative, but I do like characters to be able to recognise a moral dilemma if they trip over one, and not simply to whine that they're not wearing suitable shoes to deal with it. In fact, if shoes get mentioned at all I'm likely to ditch a book - I hate the damn things, I only wear them if I absolutely have to, and I cannot abide having to buy them. Oh, and I don't believe anyone can actually run in heels (cf. Castle).

Right, divagatory rant over, let's turn to the book. Wicked Business in the second (I think) in the Lizzy and Diesel series that begin with Wicked Appetite (spot the theme). Lizzy is a cupcake baker (imagine, someone whose job is to make fairy cakes all day, what has the world come to?) living near Cambridge MA, which is nice, because it's a bit of the US which doesn't turn up too often in my reading. She's unusual in that she has the power to detect magical energy in objects, which has brought her to the attention of Gerwulf Grimoire (Wulf), who wants her to find seven magical stones associated with the seven deadly sins - not sure why, some plan for world domination, I guess. There's also a woman called Anarchy following her to get the stones, and that's definitely about world domination. Lizzy is protected by Wulf's cousin, Diesel, who seems to have some sort of guardian angel role, except that lust plays a considerable part in it. Perhaps this is just because it's the lust stone they're looking for in this instalment, but Lizzy certainly fancies him before the stone shows up, so perhaps not. There are a number of other regular characters - Wulf's intellectually challenged "minion", Hatchet, who wants to be a medieval squire (I couldn't decide whether the cod olde Englishe was Hatchet getting it wrong or the author!), a pet monkey with a vulgar turn of gesture, a rather unsuccessful witch, and so on. If I sound a little hazy about some of the details it's because, unlike in Kiss the Dead, there is so little exposition that I simply had to let it flow over me and hope for the best. This pretty much matches the plot, which is thin, and the characterisation, which is nearly non-existent, although Lizzy comes over as likeable enough. I did wonder if the monkey, Carl, mightn't be the most interesting person, although he certainly needs to learn about what's appropriate in human company - too much of the humour was really rather juvenile, I found. The mystery which starts the book - why should someone have pushed a professor off his balcony? - doesn't really hold anyone's attention, even the people supposed to be curious about it.

And that's the crux of the matter, really - is there enough here to hold your attention? If you want a bit of fluff to occupy you while you wait for a train, or light relief to take your mind off an imminent dental appointment, then it's enjoyable and silly. (If you're fifteen and reading it when you're meant to be doing your homework, maybe more so.) There is a place in life for silly books, it's just a matter of finding the right time for them. If you're in the mood for amiable fun, but lack the attention span for something a little weightier - say, Tom Holt -  then Lizzy and Diesel are your guys. Just don't blame me if you get indigestion.

6 comments:

  1. Not for me - this just doesn't appeal. You did well to read it!

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! I was rather patting myself on the back by the end :-)

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  2. Doesn't appeal to me, either, but sounds entertaining enough for it to be successful on the market.
    Love the bit you said about chic-lit: I do like characters to be able to recognise a moral dilemma if they trip over one, and not simply to whine that they're not wearing suitable shoes to deal with it.
    So well put :-D

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    1. It's okay, but I like something with a little more tp get my teeth into.

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  3. I have never been able to get on the Evanovich bandwagon. I know people love her, but I don't get it...

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    1. She seems to be enormously successful, but it's not art...

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