The Last Curve
I fought desperately with myself over whether to assign this book a D or an F. I still have the bruises. Finally, I decided to take a look at the essence of a romance novel, the romance itself. If nothing else worked, did the relationship between the hero and heroine at least take off, was it believable, did it work? But, since romance is all but missing from this book, that decided things for me, and I went with the F. If it’s not important to you whether the hero and heroine are together very much during the course of a book, then you might want to go with the D.
Ten years ago (it’s always ten years – takes the guesswork out of doing the math I suppose), Jan Garret’s older sister, Frannie, was stalked and violently raped. Apparently unable to recover from the ordeal, Frannie later committed suicide. Or, did she? Jan has gone on to become the attorney Frannie had been studying to become. Jan now works for the office of the State’s Attorney in Annapolis, Maryland. Her boss, Nick Fitzgerald, is a fashion-plate media-hound, but Jan likes and trusts him, even though he seems to counter her each time she tries to open the files concerning her sister’s rape and subsequent death.
Max Hale is a detective whose new partner is an old pal of Jan’s. Max’s late fiancé had been caught in the crossfire during an attempted liquor store robbery some (could it have been ten?) years earlier, and was killed. Because of this incident, Max has sworn off commitment (what an out-of-the-blue surprise this was), so when he meets Jan, it’s business-as-usual. Sparks do not fly. Max and Jan spend the rest of the book mostly apart, having only brief and occasional encounters to discuss the current rash of serial rape/murders. When the hero and heroine get together in the last fifty pages of the book, I had to wonder why they ever fell in love. They spent virtually no time together, had no deep and soulful conversations, and did not in any way encourage love to grow. No time together equals no romance.
Now, I have to say that Jan’s investigation of her sister’s rape/death, and her pursuit of the truth behind the current crimes approached being okay (hence, my D-or-F dilemma), but the dialogue was so dumb, and the characters so poorly drawn, I just started flipping pages. Every now and then I’d stop and read a little, but nope, nothing had changed, and the hero and heroine still had no scenes together.
There was some fascinating dialogue though. “He knew his interest in Jan was dangerous, especially since it was being denied. It could only fester and grow.” Ooh, fester and grow. Pretty sexy stuff, huh?
While the author has some police lingo correct, Max did not come off as a great detective. In one instance, Max is examining the crime scene of a rape and murder. In thinking about the murderer, he says to himself, “After he immobilized Lucy (the sexual nature of the crime convinced Max this perp was a man), he either led her or carried her….” This was actually noted parenthetically in Max’s self-talk. “The sexual nature of the crime convinced Max this perp was a man”? In another instance, Max approaches a blanket-covered form lying on the floor, surrounded by police taking notes, etc. Max points to the form and says, “Is that her?” I can see why this guy’s a top-notch detective!
Eventually, Jan sort of figures out what’s going on (the reader got it about 300 pages earlier), and puts her plan into motion to entrap the killer, using herself as bait (since the rapist always approached the victims by boat, it seemed appropriate). She even practices how she will run away when he attacks her. Me, I’d just kick back with my 9 mm Glock pointed at the front door and munch some popcorn, picking up the value of the day on QVC while I passed the time. Different strokes I guess.
Well, the final Big Scene happens, and of course Jan’s plan works like a charm and the rapist/murderer does indeed come after her. But, where is the hero? Where is our boy Max? This is one of the only romance novels I’ve ever read where the hero never shows up during the final confrontation, and a minor character steps in to blow the bad guy away. Okay, so, no romance, and no heroism. Uh, just what then, was the point of this book?