Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flipping Out

From www.Borders: "Nora Bannister is a bestselling mystery novelist who buys run-down houses in Los Angeles. While her business partners turn the house into a showpiece, Nora makes it the scene of a grisly murder in her House To Die For series."

This is the first Lomax & Biggs mystery I've read, but it won't be the last. It's set in L.A. in the days before the real estate bubble burst, and opens with five LAPD detectives playing poker on a houseboat owned by one of them. The next morning, one of the cop's wives is found murdered, and Lomax & Briggs are assigned to the case. Though they work it hard and are top homicide detectives, they can find neither rhyme nor reason for the murder. Then a second cop's wife is found murdered in the same way, and it turns out both victims were partner in the house-flipping scheme. The stakes are raised even higher ~ since Biggs' own wife is one of the partners of the house-flipping consortium.

This is not deep like your P.D. James or even Michael Connelly. Rather, it's light and humorous ~ more like a Janet Evanovich or early Robert Crais. The plot is somewhat outrageous and pretty involved, but Karp manages to keep it from being too convoluted to comprehend by his clear, concise writing style. The chapters are short, and the action moves quickly, making it a fast read. The dialogue was true to life, and I found myself chuckling in amused appreciation several times.

The only thing that troubled me a bit was the almost banal treatment of the deaths of the women. These weren't scum whose deaths seem no great loss, such as those who often end up murdered in the Stephanie Plum mysteries, or strangers to the reader like many victims in P.D. James' mysteries. Although we never "meet" some of them until they are already dead, we get to know them through what is said about them prior to their deaths by their husbands and friends, and the banter between the detectives and others involved in the investigation seems a bit more callous than I like to think homicide cops are.

All in all, though, I enjoyed the novel and recommend it without hesitation.

1 comment:

Angie said...

That looks like an interesting book. Thanks for the review.

I really like the name of your blog.