This is one of those novels that get mentioned in “How to write a freakin’ good mystery” books. Kiernan O’ Saughnessy wrote a series with her forensic pathologist turned PI protag. I’d have to give it an okay rating. The protag was good, strong, feisty female lead. Using San Francisco as a setting always seems to be a winner. She threw in a lot of forensic detail. Unfortunately, I didn’t see that detail as necessary. She spent a lot of time proving that a drowning victim was bashed in the head before going overboard. But we’d already assumed the guy was murdered through other routes. Namely, that the woman on the boat was still alive and hiding. So the mystery wasn’t terribly hard to figure out. There were no surprise bad guys. The only real mystery was the information contained on a memo that no one could find. You had no clues as to what might be on it in advance, so it wasn’t much of an “aha!” moment when you found out.
Now, onto a huge pet peeve of mine. I’m a Christian. I know, when I read a secular novel, there might be language and sex scenes. If the book is offensive in the first few chapters, I can toss it. Kiernan fooled me. She was well behaved–just a smattering of language–for most of the book. Then, on the last page, she takes the Lord’s name in vain in the worst possible way. You know the one–my Savior’s name with an “F” bomb dropped in the middle. What editor didn’t flag this? She set the tone for a light, non-offensive mystery, then nails this on at the end. I don’t think I’m being over-sensitive. An author sets a contract with the reader at the beginning of the book. At the beginning of the book we have non-Christian characters who drop a swear word on occasion, but nothing too bad. You can’t just break that agreement at the end of the book.
Okay, off my horse now. The book was written in ’91, so I’m not going to kill any sales here. I think Gina is right, I should stick to the CBA.