Friday, May 9, 2014

Almost True Confessions by Jane O'Connor: A review

Almost True Confessions: Closet Sleuth Spills AllAlmost True Confessions: Closet Sleuth Spills All by Jane O'Connor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This bit of marshmallow fluff masquerading as a book would be just the ticket if one were spending a lazy day at the beach. While I wasn't at the beach, I did find it a pleasant diversion for a couple of days, and quite a departure from my usual reading material.

Our "heroine" is Miranda Bookman, freelance copy editor for various New York publishing houses. She's freelance because she got fired from Simon and Schuster for an egregious mistake. One which was allegedly actually committed by an underling but she took the fall for it.

The first thing you need to know about Miranda is that no one calls her that. She's "Rannie." Several of the women characters have cutesy nicknames. That's one thing they have in common. Another is that all the good gals are tiny - 5'2" or shorter and size 0 to 4. Anything larger is considered fat, the one mortal sin for a woman.

Rannie is a divorcee with two almost grown-up children, one in college and the other soon to be. She is in her mid-forties and is cursed/blessed with a natural inquisitiveness that frequently gets her into trouble. She is a natural born puzzle solver, so when she goes to the apartment of reclusive author Ret (actually Margaret) Sullivan to pick up a manuscript she is supposed to edit and finds the writer tied up in bed and strangled with a Hermes scarf, of course, she has to get involved in solving the murder.

But that isn't nearly the end of it. Shortly thereafter, an editor at Simon and Schuster, the one who gave Rannie the editing job, is attacked and killed while she is on her morning run. Surely there must be a connection.

Finally, the capper - another editor at an independent publishing house "commits suicide" by slitting his wrists, but Rannie knows the man and knows there is no one less likely to have killed himself. And he had published a biography (which actually turned out to be an autobiography) of the murdered author. The three deaths have to be related and this death must be murder, too.

What is at the bottom of all these violent deaths? Will the police be able to identify the murderer and bring him or her to justice? Or, more to the point, will Rannie be able to discover the answer to the puzzle surrounding the deaths before she becomes the fourth victim?

The characters in this novel are essentially Ken and Barbie dolls. They exist for dress-up and fantasy play. I can't really believe in any of them. Still, if you require something to briefly occupy your mind without really engaging your emotions or your intellect, marshmallow fluff books are not necessarily such a bad thing. After all, we can't read Proust and Joyce all the time.



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