Monday, 4 June 2012

Our Lady of Immaculate Deception

Author: Nancy Martin
Genre: Light Mystery
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 320
First Published: March 2010
First Line: "The only witness to the arson was a one-armed marble statue of a naked man with ivy growing where his fig leaf should have been."

Synopsis:  Rozy Abruzzo is an architectural salvager whose hard-as-nails personality has helped her during her tumultuous life.  A single mother of a teenage daughter and living with her aunt Roxy is just trying to get by and stay under the radar of her Mafia family connections as much as possible.

When millionaire Julius Hyde's mansion is burned down Roxy heads over to the wreckage to see if she can scavenge any good deals.  Among some of the typical salvage items she also finds a marble statue of a naked man which she takes off the property hoping that it's a diamond in the rough.  When Julius is later found murdered Roxy is questioned by the police since she was one of the last people to see the man alive.  With her head on the proverbial chopping block, Roxy is determined to prove her innocence.

My Thoughts:  While I do enjoy light mysteries interspersed among some of my heavier reads this book just didn't cut it for me.  This surprised me because I really enjoyed Nancy Martin's 'Blackbird Sisters' mysteries.  They're a fun read with good humour, quirky characters and a dash of suspense thrown in for good measure.  Unfortunately there was just something lacking with 'Immaculate Deception'. 

I had three main issues with this book.  First, it had an exceptionally weak and fairly boring plot.  There was no suspense to keep me wanting more.  Secondly, this book had none of Martin's well-known humour.  Her Blackbird Sisters' series is filled with quirky characters and their humourous escapades.

Lastly, and most importantly to me, I just didn't like Roxy ... at all.  She's a hard character to figure out.  Here's this tough woman who is overprotective of her teenage daughter, extremely loyal to her dim witted side kick Nooch and helps battered women.  Sounds great!  But there's another side to Roxy.  She's also a woman who isn't around enough to raise her daughter, she's very immature and highly oversexed.   Kind of a complicated character for a light mystery. 

In the author's defense, I think Martin was trying to make Roxy out to be a strong, independent woman but unfortunately what I, as a reader, focused on was the immature, oversexed woman who kept on degrading herself.  Roxy is so busy steaming up car windows with random strangers that I never really got a sense of who she really was -- beyond a raging hormone.  I like a tough, no nonsense kind of female lead but Roxie isn't endearing or even likeable.  She has low standards for herself but then is indignant when her daughter gives her some upsetting news.  Come again?  Not to mention that she's hardly around to raise her daughter leaving that job up to her aunt while Roxy babies her hulk of a sidekick Nooch.  Sadly, I found that the sex scenes took the book to a whole other level (subterranean slutty level at that) which overtook the book especially since there wasn't much of a mystery to read about.

There are a slew of unmemorable secondary characters that are introduced as well but so many that I found it a little hard to keep everyone straight.  The story is told mainly from Roxy's point of view but also from the point of view of a rich lawyer and a socialite who's hopped up on prescription drugs the majority of the time leading me to wonder why she was included as a voice for the story.

What I did like about this book is that Martin linked her famous Blackbird Sisters mystery series with this new series by having Roxy be the half-sister of Michael Abruzzo (Nora Blackbird's love interest in the 'Sisters' series).  What would have made it even better is if Michael and Nora made an appearance in this book to help tie in the two series.  Why make Roxy related to Michael at all if he wasn't going to show up in the first book?  It would have been a great way to introduce a new series or to introduce readers to her very popular older series.

I struggled to finish this book hoping that Martin would pull off some kind of big, amazing finish but sadly that never happened.  I can appreciate if Martin was going for something new with this series - something out of her comfort zone and not similar to her Blackbird Sisters series.  Unfortunately her signature humourous voice was totally missing from this book and the overall feel of the book was a little too raunchy for my tastes. 

This book was missing the quality of writing and the suspenseful mystery that I've come to expect from this author.   I'd suggest reading her "Blackbird Sisters" series starting with "How to Murder a Millionaire"  to get an accurate feel for the type of writing this author is capable of.

My Rating: 1.5/5 stars

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