The Model Man
Surprisingly and refreshingly, The Model Man is an entertaining romance/mystery with fun characters and a witty first-person narration. I’m happy I got past its hideous cover and confusing summary because the story inside is enjoyable and memorable.
Christy Harris, former actress-turned-psychic/con artist, narrates the novel. A con artist for a heroine? I’m picky about my heroines, but the author surprised me. Before she became Madame Christina, Christy was an actress trying to make her way through Hollywood. Unfortunately, she had standards against taking off her clothes in auditions, and she turned to telemarketing. It was when she noted that being a con artist was a lot like the latter – only she gets more than 10% – that I started to warm up to her.
Christy is in between scams when she opens the door to find Joe, a handsome homicide detective with a Texas drawl. Luckily, he isn’t there to arrest her, but instead to ask for her psychic services in connection with an unsolved crime. She’s highly recommended and he’s hit a dead end. Christy’s shocked and wary, but he’s hot and willing to pay cash, so off they go.
Christy obviously isn’t able to provide him with too much info from her psychic reading, as she gleans most of her information from simple observations or a customer’s facial expressions. But she is surprised, and so is Joe, to find herself making more of a connection with Joe than she ever intended. But her instincts prove correct; getting involved with a cop is a bad idea because she’s not the only one with baggage.
The book is ridiculous at times, but more often it’s ridiculously entertaining. I enjoyed Christy’s insights, cynicism, and sense of irony. After her first meeting with Joe, she’s determined to avoid him since there are too many lies between them. The way she agonizes over the decision was endearing, and because she fully recognizes her own great flaws and her even bigger mistakes, I very much liked reading the book from her perspective. Pop culture references abound, but they actually delighted me instead of distracting me.
On the relationship front, I have to admit that Joe remains something of a cipher and what the reader learns about him as a character is limited. And, while the relationship between the two begins rather simply on the foundation of their intense mutual attraction, I liked how the author developed their progress. Christy herself recognizes the absurdity of how quickly she’s falling for a cop – and she’s all too unsure of how to deal with the complications – which created a good amount of tension. There is not too much romance in the traditional sense (the mystery takes up more of the plot), but it was satisfying. The closing scene hit just the right notes: not too much, and not too little.
There’s more than one glaring plot hole, but these are easily overlooked for the fun that the book provides. The mystery had a good amount of cleverly laid clues and plot twists (some unbelievable, some genuinely surprising), and it thankfully keeps up the pace throughout the whole book.
While the author’s style isn’t always smooth and polished, I still very much enjoyed the narrator’s quirks, snark and cynicism. The story had surprisingly touching moments, and it ended up as one of the better mysteries/comedies that I’ve read in a while.
|Review Date:||August 4, 2006|