I suggested we read Booked to Die by John Dunning because it was about the world of books and it was a mystery. Not that I like mysteries, but my two other Takers do. I suppose, predictably, I enjoyed the book parts of it and not the mystery part.
The plot was a little odd. I haven’t read, or even watched, a lot of mysteries, but it still seems odd to me that we start with a dead body and a detective. And the detective goes off on some other tangent, seeking vengeance or justice or something on this guy who he couldn’t nail for previous crimes. And we’re supposed to be on the detective’s side when he kidnaps the guy and beats him up (in a fair fight, supposedly, but it’s off camera)?
So then the detective quits his job and starts a bookstore. But eventually he’s pulled back into the murder mystery when more people are killed. And then he goes and plays vigilante, basically because he wants to.
The women in the book get screwed. Usually literally. The main character’s treatment of them really bugs me, but then, if you think about it, he’s a jerk to nearly everyone. Under the guise of being a nice guy, with a heart, and guilt, but really, he’s a big jerk.
First he’s dating this cop, but we never really get to see her or know anything about her except that she’s a cop. Then when he runs off to be a bookstore owner, that ends. He hires a young chick to help run his store and you get to like her, so you know that can’t end well. Then he’s all older-guy, younger-girl angsting about her.
Then there’s the one-night stand, I guess, girl of the guy he hates. He messes with her head, and her life, and kidnaps her too. She would’ve been a whole lot better off with the guy beating her up than with the cop using her to get to him.
And finally there’s ‘love at first sight’ chick, who goes for bad boys. And that relationship is just totally messed up and freaking annoying. ‘I want to date you, but I shouldn’t, but I can’t.’ And somehow dating this guy makes her start eating meat and bad-for-you cinnamon rolls. And when they have sex, he’s holding his gun the entire time. Then they both joke about rape.
Yea, yea, yuck it up. Which is another problem. The main character thinks he’s funny. And I might actually think he was slightly funny if he didn’t make a point of saying he was funny and nobody gets it when he’s funny. (Old Man’s War by John Scalzi has the same thing, only his main char is actually funny. And not a jerk.)
I didn’t like the main character when he was seeking vengeance or justice or whatever on the evil bad guy I-have-to-take-your-word-for-it, so I didn’t enjoy reading those parts. When he’s all involved in the books and telling me how awesome rare books are and whatnot, that I found interesting. I’m not the sort to prize a valuable book over a nice readable paperback copy of the same book, but it was interesting to read anyway.
And then he goes tearing around the country, and not quite telling us what he’s thinking, and quite possibly going crazy for part of it. And that was deadly dull.
And then the book ended abruptly after the last final reveal.
If you’d asked me halfway through the book how many stars, I might’ve given it three. But the final overall impression inclines me to 1 star. Which is a crying shame, because the premise of a book-loving detective is a really good one.