Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Masked by Moonlight by Nancy Gideon

I skim-read this story after about chapter 3. Which is why I almost missed the part where the heroine, Charlotte, pistol-whips her guy, the hero Max. Because she thought her good friend, the conniving nun, had died. The next day he forgives her.

Yes it is so much that type of relationship between Max and Charlotte. They hump and declare their love for each other. A few pages later they lie and hide the truth from one another. Max, in particular, seems to have emerged from an abusive relationship with Jimmy, his common-law adoptive father, only to start another with Charlotte, who is basically wacko. Mind you, Max's servility to Jimmy is also pretty cringeing to read. An image of Norman Bates and his mom kept creeping into my mind.

Oh, and Charlotte is also a serving police detective. Unable to solve any crime until someone anonymous hands her a brown envelope full of incriminating evidence against some poor schmuck. I struggled to get over the construct of an officer of the law sleeping with a major hoodlum, her colleagues know and she is not suspended from work and is even allowed to investigate alleged crimes committed by her lover, Max.

The novel is set in New Orleans. Which almost explains the totally bonkers plot. A mash-up of grand-guignol and southern gothic. Featuring off page grisly murders, gang-rape and arson. Plus a few ick factors. Fairly entertaining if you like that sort of thing. But for me...less is more.

What went wrong...

Charlotte is called different names by the different people in her life. The author calls her Charlotte or CeCe completely interchangeably. Like she couldn't make up her mind about her character. She also got called Lottie and Ceece.

For a moment. I actually thought tough brainy police detective Charlotte was going to allow herself to be raped despite the fact she had a weapon and her attackers did not. Thank goodness Max saved her. Like she was some kind of simpering miss.

For the first half of the novel the reader can get the impression that Charlotte became a cop to pay back Legere for her brutalisation. I thought psych tests prevented that sort of person from being a cop. (Thankfully.) Anyway that thread was dumped when Jimmy got shot by his relative. (A complete anti-climax.) And it made the heroine look demented.

Why would a working police detective even want to dress 'almost like a hooker.'

For most of the novel Max is a tearful weenie. He's a grown man who has chosen servility. Yuk. And that part about how Max's mom started hooking to buy him shoes is utter bilge.

I hate to defend slime but spousal abuse is not a capital offense. And could be said to be a whole lot less serious than racketeering. Which is what Jimmy and Max were involved in.

Some scenes were just ludicrous...Max introducing Charlotte to all the gangsters. Charlotte stopping a fellow detective from questioning Max, in the police station, when they all knew she was sleeping with him. The woman had no shame.

Towards the end of the novel, Charlotte suddenly had a realisation of the conflict of interest between her job and her relationship with Max. Lasted about a microsecond.

The love scenes weren't very hot...or descriptive. They were more about athleticism than emotion. And Max seems to have developed a pash for Charlotte when he rescued her from the gang-rape. Ick!

I absolutely didn't get who killed Ben Spratt or why. Or why Mary-Kate felt she should also die. I realise that that was all sequel bait. But that wasn't really made clear either. Just so annoying.

Why did so many characters have french names? Was some insult intended upon cajuns?

...but as a big positive. A whole lot happens in quite a short book. And for readers who like unlikeable (cod) serial victim heroes and heroines it was actually an interesting story. A variation on the theme of 'its so bad its probably a best-seller.'

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