TBR Challenge – Things That Go Bump in the Night

everywheresheturns This month we’re reading romantic suspense and paranormals for the TBR Challenge. I’ve been gradually packing up for a move over the past month, so finding a book that (1)fit the category and (2)wasn’t boxed up posed something of a challenge in itself. As a result, I ended up reading the first romantic suspense I came across, Debra Webb’s 2009 release Everywhere She Turns. I don’t recall buying this one and all I can say after reading it is that it wasn’t just an average, run-of-the-mill thriller. This one was bad, even offensively bad at times. If I read this for review, I’d give it a solid D-.

So, what do we get in this story?
– misogynist villain killing women? Check.
– heroine with a chip on her shoulder who has returned home from the big city? Check and check.
– skanky villain sex? Check
– hero from the heroine’s past who might still have the hots for her ? Check
– All kinds of TSTL behavior leading to “heroine in peril” situations? Check (and of course a villain will eventually set his sights on the heroine – doesn’t it always seem to happen that way?)

As you can see, this book is filled with elements that readers see in plenty of other novels – and sadly, the author does little to breathe fresh life into these old cliches. There’s more than one bad actor in this plot and the story shows Huntsville with quite a web of corruption in place, so I had to give a few points for that, but otherwise this one read like a tired psycho killer novel with less than enthralling leads.

The heroine, Dr. CJ Patterson, has returned to Huntsville, Alabama due to the murder of her sister. When she left her impoverished upbringing behind, she intended never to return, but CJ wants justice for her dysfunctional sister. Initially she thinks her sister’s no-good boyfriend killed her, but the more CJ digs into things, the more she starts to realize that something more sinister is going on in Huntsville.

So, what does this book in? Characterization really has a lot to do with it. In the hands of a skilled author, even the most tired plot tropes can come to life with a story containing interesting characters. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. However, the hero, Detective Braddock, never really came to life and CJ seems to grow ever more TSTL as the book goes on. At least that’s what I would call her determination to stay alone in her somewhat flimsy childhood home in the face of attacks and attempts to intimidate. CJ’s attempts to investigate her sister’s killing independently of the police don’t show a lot of savvy either and it never seems to occur to her that she might be endangering people and/or muddying up the waters for the police who are working the case.

Adding to the issues with this book are some of the plot points involving the various bad actors, including the ever obnoxious skanky villain sex. When an author decides to try showing me that a villain must be a really bad guy because he engages in gay sex, for example, I find that offensive rather than illustrative. And if leads having sex while they’re in peril drives you nuts, this one just might drive you over the edge. Call me crazy, but if someone attacks me in my own house, jumping on the first officer who shows up the house and instantly wanting sex before he even has time to take a look around the premises is probably not going to be my reaction.

The rather complicated web of crime and corruption set up by Webb got my attention at times and I found myself trying to unravel it mentally on occasion, so I can’t completely fail this book. However, there really isn’t much there to hold a reader’s attention and you’ll have to hold your nose to get through some of the worst of the plotting.

– Lynn Spencer

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