Friday, June 03, 2005

“Why should I listen to you, anyway? You’re a virgin who can’t drive.”

The Movie: Clueless, 1995 (Amy Heckerling, screenwriter and dir., from the novel Emma by Jane Austen)
Who says it: Brittany Murphy as Tai, a high school senior who’s unlucky in love
The context: Cher (Alicia Silverstone) persists in offering Tai advice.
How to use it: When you don’t want to listen to a well-meaning friend.

Thanks to Joseph Mathews, who suggested this quotation -- which, we want to make clear, has no application to anyone he knows.

But the quotation felt especially appropriate to me the other morning, when I opened a padded envelope to find an advance copy of Officer Down, by Theresa Schwegel.

I worked with Theresa on an earlier draft of this book, which will be published by St. Martin's Minotaur in September. The manuscript was good when I got it, better after the revisions I suggested, and is even better now -- so good, in fact, that I wonder again at my own officiousness. (My own novel, in case you were wondering, is stuck at p. 117. I don't know what the hell happens next. Thanks for asking.)

Officer Down introduces Chicago police officer Samantha Mack, known to friends and colleagues as Smack. Samantha's personal life, already shaky, spins out of control after the shooting death of her partner -- with Samantha's gun. The problem is that Samantha was hit on the head during the ambush, and can't remember what happened. She's sure someone else was on the scene, but the only person who believes her is her married lover, a homicide cop who may not be what he seems. Samantha is a great, believable character who stands on her own, but I'd recommend this book to fans of April Smith's Ana Grey novels or Jodi Compton's Sarah Pribek series.

And these are the other books I read this week -- all crime fiction, all the time:

Will Thomas, Some Danger Involved. Both of my parents recommended this book, a first novel set in Victorian England, featuring a Holmes-like detective and his scrappy Welsh assistant. It took me a while to get past the flowery Victorian diction, but the narrator -- the assistant, Thomas Llewelyn -- is an engaging character, and the plot, about an apparent serial killer working in London's Jewish community, is solid. I look forward to the next installment.

James Rollins, Map of Bones. I was in the mood for an epic adventure novel, something that would take me for a rollercoaster ride and not distract me too much with plausibility. Map of Bones didn't work for me, much as I wanted it to. The premise is cool -- ancient relics that are actually a specialized form of superconducting gold, chased by a secret society with roots in the Vatican -- but the book is too long by about a third, and the romantic subplot is just embarrassing.

Daniel Hecht, Puppets. This was more like it: a serial killer novel that turns into a great paranoid government conspiracy-medical thriller. I'm a fan of Hecht's Cree Black series, featuring a psychic private detective (yes, that premise sounds cheesy; it isn't). Puppets predates those books by several years, but is just now being published in the United States. It has one too many subplots, but the central relationship -- between detective Mo Ford and his colleague, psychiatric profiler Rebecca Ingalls -- feels not only authentic, but enviable. It'll be available in the U.S. in July.

1 comment:

Aldo said...

Clair,
I finally met Theresa at LAFOB and she sent me a copy too. I read it all in one sitting and just loved it.