Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Temporary Detective


Author: Joanne Sydney Lessner
Genre: Mystery
Type: Kindle ebook
Series: 1st book in the Isobel Spice mystery series
First Published: April 2012 
First Line: "Isobel Spice regarded the powerfully built, dark-skinned man behind the dest, who looked like he'd be happier thundering down a football field than despensing temporary office jobs to aspiring actors."

Synopsis:  Isobel Spice is an aspiring actress who has recently moved to NYC.  While Isobel has an excellent singing voice and acting ability, getting a gig in the city is proving to be harder than she originally thought.  In an attempt to go after her dream while still making ends meet, Isobel scours the city for a job at various temp agencies.  Unfortunately without any marketable office skills many temp agencies turn her down.

Getting more than a little nervous about her financial situation, Isobel holds nothing back while trying to sweet talk temp agent James Cooke into giving her a chance at a last minute fill-in job at a local bank.  James knows that he shouldn't be taking any risks with new recruits.  He has a lot on his own plate with being new at his own job, being a recovering alcoholic and then there's that niggling feeling he has that Isobel has a penchant for trouble.  Even with his inital misgivings about Isobel's skill he decides to give Isobel a shot at the job. 

Unfortunately, James initial bad feelings about Isobel's innate ability to find trouble are realized when she finds the body of an unlikeable secretary in a bathroom stall during a routine fire drill.  Now with the police pointing fingers in her direction, a new job to fulfill as well as getting to auditions on time Isobel has more than she can handle.

My Thoughts:  When I ordered this mystery for my Kindle I was in the mood for a cozy mystery.  Nothing too heavy and the fact that this was the first book in a new series sealed the deal. 

Here's what I liked about this book -- It was a light mystery that had an interesting premise and setting.  I loved the NYC setting and the behind-the-scenes look at auditions and call-backs etc. 

I realize that to read a cozy mystery series usually one has to suspend reality a wee bit because the protagonist keeps finding dead bodies and, honestly how often does that happen?  I'm hoping not a lot. I think that setting Isobel up as a temp worker gives the author many opportunities to put Isobel in many varied situations for the future books where she can stumble upon corpses and keep the reader interested. 

That said I think that the overall feel I got from this book was just 'meh'.  It was just an OK mystery with OK characters but nothing over the top.  There were a lot of characters with a twist or two thrown in but none of the secondary characters really stood out and there were a few times when I got confused as to which character the author was referring.

The character with the most depth had to have been James, Isobel's temp agent, who was a recovering alcoholic.  It was nice to see, amongst all of the rather blaw characters, a person who stood out from the rest.  Yes, his addiction made the storyline a little heavy at times but I think it brought a more authentic feel to James.  I also appreciated that the reader gets to have an inside view of the inner feelings of a recovering alcoholic and what they endure on a daily basis.

In contrast, I felt like I never really got to know Isobel. Yes, she's an aspiring actress with a great voice but what else?  She really fell flat for me and with this being the beginning of a series I was hoping to really click with the main character right off the bat.  Unfortunately that just didn't happen this time around.

I think the author was trying to start some romantic tension between James and Isobel but I just didn't feel it.  Nor did I really want to.  Why do we always have to have sexual tension between main characters?  In this book I would have rather more time spent on ramping up the suspense of the book than wondering will they/won't they?

Would I recommend this book?  Yes, if you're in the mood for a very light mystery.  I'm hoping that things pick up their pace in the future books because with the setting and Isobel's job prospects being so interesting this book series 'could' be a great little cozy mystery series.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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