The front cover of Denim Detective features a picture of a giant butt floating in the sky. Oddly enough, that’s not what the book is about, although the silly image does suit the very silly story inside. It’s actually about a bunch of hysterical people running around like headless chickens. Frankly, reading about a giant butt would have been better than this.
The premise doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then, not much about this story does. A white supremacist’s pregnant wife is killed during a police chase. The white supremacist kills the deputy responsible out of revenge, then seems to come after the family of officer Beau Shanahan. Why come after Beau when the person actually responsible for the woman’s death is dead? Because the villains are over-the-top crazies and most of this book seems to rely on crazy logic.
First, Beau’s wife Deedra is in a car accident with their young daughter. The little girl disappears. Some people believe she’s dead. Some believe she was kidnapped. Deedra becomes convinced that someone is trying to kill her. Beau doesn’t take her seriously. After another close call on her life, Deedra decides the best way to deal with this is to run away without telling her husband or anyone else where she is. Does she consider that it might upset her husband when his wife disappears just months after their daughter? Well, a gal’s got to think of herself, so that’s just too bad for him. A few months later she enters the hospital for a hysterectomy. When she awakens, she learns that her blood was switched with another woman’s, who then died from receiving the wrong blood. The mistake was found in time to save Deedra. She believes someone switched the blood on purpose to kill her. This seems like a needlessly complicated, not particularly effective way of trying to kill someone, but that’s par for the course in this book.
Deedra runs back to Buffalo Falls, Montana, where she and Beau are soon sniping at each other. It isn’t long though, before they’re tearing each other’s clothes off in the kitchen and reconciling with no apparent trouble. Meanwhile, someone does seem to be coming after Deedra. First, a sniper tries to take her out. Then someone sneaks into the house while they’re asleep and writes a scary message on her bathroom mirror. Personally, I’d have a hard time taking someone seriously when they could have killed you and chose to write cheesy warnings on the mirror in lipstick instead, but that’s just me. Besides, who tries to shoot someone, then leaves a scary message for them? Isn’t that just moving backward? Meanwhile, Beau and Deedra learn that the white supremacist couldn’t be responsible for some of the attempts on Deedra?s life. So who could it be?
I suppose there’s a decent concept for a story lurking somewhere in here, but the execution is simply too far-fetched and overwrought to be anything but silly. None of the details ring true, which makes the story seem really phony. Deedra visits Buffalo Falls’ “only three-level department store” – this is a small, supposedly rural town with only three police officers, so why on earth would it have a three-story department store at all? This is the kind of book where Deedra wants to look at the police file of the car accident, so the dispatcher says sure, hands over her own keys to the fileroom, and sends her off to paw through the case files on her own. What an accommodating police department. In the end, there are some major revelations about some characters that didn’t seem entirely plausible given certain earlier scenes. But whatever. It’s crazy logic.
As mentioned earlier, there’s no romance here. After their initial antagonism, they slide easily back into love. The suspense plot doesn’t really follow any kind of logical path. It just bounces randomly from point to point. I will say that I didn’t predict the villain’s identity, for whatever that’s worth. The characters are barely developed. Beau is just a standard-issue Western cop, if a bit crankier than usual. Deedra is constantly on the verge of hysteria, which may be understandable given the circumstances but makes it difficult to get any sense of who she is when she’s not screeching and flailing about. There are some scenes that may not even qualify as melodramatic, since there’s no actual drama in them. They’re just shrill and annoying. It’s never a good sign when a book gets to the climactic scene where the villain threatens the heroes, and I kind of hope the person kills them.
Another annoying element: there’s a minor character named Nell Carter in the book. You’d think writers would know better than to give characters in their stories a somewhat recognizable name unless there’s a good reason for it. Here there isn’t, so it was just an unnecessary distraction any time the main characters started talking about Nell Carter. Of course they used her full name many times. I kept getting a mental image that didn’t gibe with the character.
Denim Detective is simply too unbelievable, underdeveloped and over-the-top to work. I wish I had been reading about a giant floating butt. That story would have been intentionally silly. This one is just plain silly.