Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson

Dark Tort is the story of how Goldy Schulz, a caterer, tracks down the murderer of her young neighbor, Dusty Routt.

I don't know if I'm just feeling extra nit-picky because I'm sick right now, but all I can say is that this book was just plain BAD on so many levels. The writing, particularly the dialogue, was clunky (someone needs to remind Davidson that in novels, it's better to show, not tell), the characters had no depth and their behaviour often seemed foolish or just plain didn't make sense. The story was bogged down by excessive, unnecessary description of people's appearance, clothing, church activities, and home decor, and the author had an annoying habit of mentioning the make and model of car that the wealthier characters drove, while referring to other vehicles merely by body type. This seemed to be the type of book that would appeal to materialistic, narrow-minded, upper middle class, middle-aged suburban women. You can probably guess I don't fit into that category.

There was a huge amount of extraneous material in this book that did nothing to advance the story, though I admit it might be more meaningful to people who've read previous books in the series. I definitely felt that I was at a disadvantage reading this book before its prequels; the backstory and characters were introduced in a rather confusing way. I felt like I could never keep the characters straight, never mind their relationships to one another.

I haven't even mentioned how stuffed with implausible premises this novel is. For one thing, everyone in the story seemed to know one another or to be related. And in spite of being set in what sounded like an average sort of suburb of Denver, oddly, there were an awful lot of murders going on, or referred to in the recent past of Goldy and her family and friends. Gee, is suburban Denver the murder capital of the USA? Also, Goldy the caterer is married to the person in charge of the murder investigation, and yet he seems to always be hanging around, cooking fabulous meals (isn't that supposed to be Goldy's job?) and being sweet and supportive while she solves the crime that his investigation team is apparently totally unable to figure out (maybe because he's not at work!). Apparently, it's considered totally acceptable for this woman to "help out" with solving a serious crime. Yeah, right! Even I could see the holes in the descriptions of police procedures here. Somehow, in a police search of the home of a murder victim, vital pieces of evidence such as a personal computer were overlooked. And nobody noticed some stolen property that turns out to have been hidden in the law office where the body was found. Umm, sure.

I could go on and on, but gosh, I am having trouble coming up with ANYTHING positive to say about this book... and that's actually a problem, because the copy I have is an Advance Reading Edition from the publisher, and I'm supposed to be submitting a review for them to use to promote the book on their website. Time to call upon all of my BS writing abilities, I guess.

1 comment:

Laura said...

What a great review! Seriously I *almost* want to read the book just to see if it's as bad as you say. I think I'll pass though as there is so little time and so many books...