Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Have a Date with Humor


Elise Sax
January 29, 2013
Ballantine/Random House
Mass-Market Paperback/E-Book 320 pages
E-Galley provided by publisher via Net Galley.   No remuneration received and all opinion's herein are my own except as noted.
...Elise Sax's hilarious series debut introduces matchmaker-in-training Gladie Burger, who stumbles into a dangerous quagmire of murder and red-hot romance.
Three months has been Gladie Burger's limit when it comes to staying in one place: She's always been a temp agency kind of girl, ever ready to move on. That's why Gladie is more than a little skeptical when her eccentric Grandma Zelda recruits her to the family business in the quaint small town of Cannes, California. Gladie is also highly unqualified: Her beloved grandmother's business is matchmaking, and Gladie has a terrible track record with romance. Still, despite evidence to the contrary, Zelda is convinced that her granddaughter has "the gift." But when the going gets tough, Gladie wonders if this gift has a return policy.
When Zelda's neighbor drops dead in his kitchen, Gladie is swept into his bizarre family's drama. Despite warnings from the (distractingly gorgeous) chief of police to steer clear of his investigation, Gladie is out to prove that her neighbor's death was murder. It's not too long before she's in way over her head-with the hunky police chief, a dysfunctional family full of possible killers, and yet another mysterious and handsome man, whose attentions she's unable to ignore. Gladie is clearly being pursued-either by true love or by a murderer. Who will catch her first?
Elise Sax worked as a journalist for fifteen years, mostly in Paris, France. She took a detour from journalism and became a private investigator before trying her hand at writing fiction. She lives in Southern California with her two sons. An Affair to Dismember is her first novel.  (Net Galley)


This book felt like a comfy slice of familiar; essentially, like Evanovich's Stephanie Plum's series with a little magical intuition or precognition thrown in.  Grandma Zelda is like a wonderful Yiddish Bubbie with the voice and colloquialism we might associate more with the Burroughs of New York than the novel's California landscape, Bubeleh?  Oddly, although Gladie's grandmother is a matchmaker and uses terms like Bubeleh, the only other sign of ethnicity is her name Zelda. Which isn't much of a cultural marker at all.

I liked the set up of two beaus, standing in for Morelli and a Ranger.  Holden who has an oilier persona than Ranger and is a little more creepy than heroic. I didn't trust him anyway.  Besides Ranger actually does heroic stuff and is a walking sex god, Holden sounds handsome but doesn't really seem like it would be hard to keep one's panties on around him.  He does help Gladie out but is also missing when she really could use a hand.  Spencer, the Morelli-esque police officer, isn't as bold as Evanovich's "Italian Stallion." And Gladdie, or Pinkie, as the cop calls her, has been less gainfully employed than Stephanie Plum and didn't finish High School. This gives her fewer career prospects than Evanovich's character. Grandmother Zelda is a lot like Stephanie Plum's Grandmother Mazur.

The plot is twistier than Stephanie Plum's Grandmother's idea of appropriate behavior as a viewing.  Each potentially mystery solving point is off the mark, but  leads to another. There's a brilliant lack of certainty throughout the book, with several chapters of misdirected sleuthing.  And the use of neither Zelda's nor Gladie's "special gifts" help all that much to avoid those amusingly dangerous situations.  While Gladie is helping solve crimes, getting herself into Plum-like trouble, she is a "matchmaker" and not a Bail Bonds Person. But, she gets thrown from cars, man-handled and threatened with guns about as much.  The story ends abruptly; without much in the way of romantic resolution. 

If you need something to hold you over until Evanovich's 20th Stephanie Plum book is released, this book may do the trick.

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