Book Number 15
Armed and Outrageous
I’m making my first attempt at writing a cozy mystery and thought this book would be a good primer. The characters are my age, there is humor, and the setting is Michigan. I really wanted to like this book, but I did not! I got three-fourths of the way through and just could not read any more.
The writing: I can excuse a grammatical error here and there, a typo now and then, a misspelling on occasion, even an error of fact. A sentence fragment. Redundant Repetitions. But there were so many in this book they were a distraction. The worst were the misplaced modifiers. One character was standing in his ass, for example. Was there an editor?
Character description: When I started reading, I remembered I’d tried the book before and gave up almost immediately because I didn’t like the character description. First, the main character’s name, Agnes. I have known several women with that name. All of them were born before 1920. I suppose the author wanted her main character to have a name that matched the era she was born in. Nope. By the forties, Agnes was not a name people gave their daughter. Just like that, the author had aged her. Agnes is in her early seventies and has her aches and pains, which is understandable, but she seems to fall (or is tripped or pushed) on the floor and usually manages to get right up. She wavers between decrepit and spry. And then there is the issue of false teeth. I have many friends the age of or older than Agnes and they all have their own teeth. I think the author gave Agnes ill-fitting false teeth to make her funny. Didn’t work for me. The portrayal of older people was demeaning and inaccurate. We don’t all have banged up cars because of poor driving skills, we don’t get into hair-pulling fist fights with each other, and we are not sex-crazed. Why does every senior citizen in this book receive their social security check on the first of the month when everywhere else the checks are spread throughout the month? And when we do receive those checks we don’t run to Walmart and harass each other and the staff while fighting over the groceries.
Setting: I like that the story is in Michigan, even though in an area I’m not familiar with. I could picture it fairly well from the description. But how can you stand on the shore and look east across Lake Huron to see the sunset?
Humor: I was hoping for snappy repartee. Agnes is just crabby and mean to many people. She is sex obsessed and what could be a cute side of her comes across as crude and juvenile. My friends and I laugh a lot and sometimes make remarks with a little innuendo, but Agnes and her friend Eleanor carry the joke too far and it loses its humor. A full chapter of the characters farting has them acting and talking like fourth-grade boys on their worst days. Agnes, smitten with her former boss, acts like a giddy, impetuous thirteen-year-old around him. The author misses the mark with her crude and slapstick humor. It all adds up to a story that is unrealistic, dumb, and boring.
Plot: The premise is promising— a series of missing girls (one is Agnes’ granddaughter which gives her a good excuse to become involved with the investigation) with the latest one’s mother having disappeared years before. I really wanted to know what happened to these young women and why. But I never got to the end. Agnes’ investigations involved running around being suspicious about everyone without any substantive clues. By the three-quarter mark in the book, I should have an inkling of what happened, but I was no closer to figuring it out than Agnes. Forget the lame, unrealistic episodes of this silly woman and get on with the mystery!
All I learned from attempting this book was don’t write like that! Sorry, zero stars for this one.