Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Lady of Pain

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Our Lady of Pain (St. Martin's, 2007).

When I started reading Marion Chesney / MC Beaton's Agatha Raisin stories, I thought that I was settling in for a long, fun run, but I turned on them during the third book. In part because they were all plot contrivances and in part because Agatha's self-destructive romance with her neighbor was infuriating me, my eyes started glazing over, and I abandoned them midway through the one about the wellspring.

But her Edwardian Murder Mystery series appealed to me, as I enjoy reading stories set in this period. The first book introduced a gang of splendid, fun, characters and, once again, I settled into a run. I knew that this one would be a shorter one, as Chesney only wrote four books with these characters. I suppose because they do require a lot of research, and she seems to want to release a new novel every eight months or so, it was starting to become a burden.

And, sure as shooting, it became a burden to read them. Feeling like the absolute worst of media tie-in novelisations, these are uncomplicated plot-driven exercises that just stampede along with minimal character development and no depth or discussion. Some stuff happens, and then some more stuff, and then some more stuff, and it keeps happening, and, worse, characters get unreasonably angry with each other for perceived slights thanks to a determined lack of communication.

So this time out, Captain Cathcart starts escorting one of his clients while assisting her with a problem, and his sometimes fiancee, Lady Rose Summer, gets entirely bent out of shape about it, and then gets accused of her murder, and then lots of things happen, and Daisy and Becket finally hook up and then get married, and then unnatural roadblocks keep getting thrown at them, and then they're in Paris and Lady Rose has a chaperone, and then, and then... honestly, the mishaps stop being funny and end up aggravating and tedious.

Mercifully, the book does draw the series to closure. I see that some fans are hoping for another one day, but I'm fine with things ending like this. They didn't end with anything like the promise of the first book, but I'll credit her for not leaving many details hanging. Not recommended, sadly.

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