Upon a Midnight Clear
Since the Loveswept line seems doomed, I hope another publisher snaps up Catherine Mulvany fast. She is too good to disappear. I love reading a writer’s first book and knowing that I’ve found someone whose new books I will look for. Upon a Midnight Clear is Catherine Mulvany’s debut and if she keeps on writing like this, we have a new star.
Upon a Midnight Clear is one of the best romantic suspense novels I’ve read in a long time, probably because it includes a good dose of humor. It takes place over the Christmas season (hence the title), but it is not really a holiday book. Dixon Yano is an ex-cop and now, a private investigator. When a mysterious woman in an extremely obvious disguise comes to his office and tells him someone is trying to kill her, then someone shoots at her through the office window – well wouldn’t you be intrigued? Alexandra Roundtree is the owner of a gift shop and there have been several attempts on her life recently. So whodunit? Her rotten yuppie fiance? Her twin sister? Her spoiled nasty cousin? Maybe even her mother?! Catherine Mulvany has populated this short little book with enough zany characters for a mini-series, like Dixon’s grandmother who has lots of cats named after famous women country singers; there’s Dolly, Reba, and Wynona.
A big test for me on how to judge a romantic suspense novel is whether the suspense overshadows the romantic relationship. If it does, I drop the book down a notch. Upon a Midnight Clear has a goodly amount of suspense (I never did guess the identity of the culprit), but the relationship between Dixon and Alexandra is always front and center. They are such charming characters! Here is Alexandra talking to Dixon (who is part Japanese and part Swedish) about his parent’s religious background:
“Are you Buddhist?”
“My father was.”
“And your mother?”
“Which makes you?”
The book is chock full of funny dialogue and situations and kept me laughing all the way through it. When Dixon and Alexandra first make love, he says, “Red toenails. How seasonal.” And of course he is very appreciative of her red underwear! Then, after they have made love, Dixon is thinking – “Better than sex, people said, describing everything from movies to chocolate mousse. Ha! Poor fools don’t know what the hell they were talking about.”
So all you publishers out there. Grab this woman quick. We don’t want a talented new writer like Catherine Mulvany to get away from us.