by Jayne Ann Krentz, contemporary (2001)
Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-13174-1
I press the doorbell. Jayne Ann Krentz has a nice house. Recycling has its rewards alright.
The door opens, and Jayne Ann Krentz appears. Her hair is longer now. Maybe the next book will have a new photo. She smiles at me.
"I'm from - "
"I don't do interviews with anyone who publishes bad reviews," she quickly snaps.
"I'm Jenniferette Googoogagalak from EW," I said smoothly. "I know EW savages everything like there's no tomorrow and the authors are imbeciles, but I'm sure..."
"EW! Why don't you say so!" She pulls me into the house.
Later, we are sitting in a very nice living room. It is very clean, very spacey, very simple. Jayne Ann Krentz lives just like her artistic heroines. Cool!
"Okay," I said. "Let's talk about your latest novel in paperback, Lost & Found."
"Oh, it's a delightful story of Cecilia... no, wait.... Bertrice... no wait, that's from... is it Iphiginia?"
"Cady Briggs," I prompted.
"Yes, Cady Briggs. She is an art and antiques expert specializing in glass... no, that's Sharp Edges... ah, water!"
"Water's the main theme in Deep Waters," I told her.
"Then what is it?" she asked somewhat crossly.
"Er..., antiques," I said. "Anyway, she and Mack Easton have been corresponding over a while now..."
"Yes, and somehow she thinks that he's her Fantasy Man. When he invites her to help him solve the mystery of a missing antique helmet, sparks fly! Fans can expect my usual delightful humor and masterful suspense. May I remind you that USA Today calls me 'one of the hottest writers in romance today'?"
"That was in 1990," I told her. "Do you think you are still relevant today?"
Cold, icy silence.
"What are you getting here?" she finally asked, with a look that would have eviscerated me if it is a dagger.
"I mean, you have been writing the same thing again and again now for almost twenty years now. Gosh, you're old... sorry, I mean, you're a professional now. What makes you think you can write a good mystery anyway?"
"Excuse me? What's wrong with my mysteries?" There is a very obvious vein pulsing on Krentz's forehead now. I edge deeper into the comfy cushion, making a note to check out IKEA for one later today.
"Well, it's always the same. Heroine goes to someone's house, finds dead body, hero finds her. Then they talk, then they fall in love, they find a dead body and a clue which leads to a potential suspect. They will dash to suspect's house, who will be found conveniently killed too. Sex. Then they finally go around and around until finally, just as they discover who's the bad guy, the bad guy will come into the room with a weapon, usually a gun. The bad guy will force hero and heroine to stand and listen to him explain everything about his plot, and then he gets killed. The end."
"You're wrong!" Krentz crows. "This time I didn't even bother with the romance. They had sex on page 76! You can't say my book is the same this time!"
"Okay. But the mystery is still routine, right?"
"You - !"
"Why do you do it? I mean, there are authors who take the time to write different plots and characters. Will you like to share with your readers why you will repeat the same thing again and again in your 1000+ books?"
"You - !"
"I mean, I have to say I enjoyed Lost & Found even if I can't remember a thing about it the next day. But I suspect that's because I need a comfort, reassuring read in today's times of turmoils and all. What happened to the humor anyway? You know, like I was saying to the staff of EW, humor is your strongest point, not mystery. At least, not your manufactured, see-through, and suspense-free mysteries."
"You - !" Finally, Krentz regains her voice and jumps to her feet, her eyes red with fury. Are those fangs I see? "You said you were from EW," she spat.
"Evil Witches, yes," I told her.
I cover my ears against the eardrum-splitting, inhuman scream, and I watch in horror as Krentz rips open her blouse.
"Miss Krentz," I gasp. "I'm not that kind of woman, I'm afraid..."
No, neither is Krentz. I watch in horror as her skin tears open and what's underneath - shiny gray aluminium - starts expanding and unfolding until a giant, eight feel tall robot looms over me. The robot's face looks like a metallic version of the real Krentz, but what terrifies me are the two giant, deadly looking lobster pinchers that are its hands. They open and close as if eager to tear something to pieces... me? And across the robot's buxom, metallic chest is ACME WRITE-O-BOT (WE MASS MANUFACTURE RANDOMLY GENERATED ROMANCE FROM A SET OF PREPROGRAMMED KEYWORDS). Oh my God! Jayne Ann Krentz is a robot!
This is a scoop! Wait until the world knows about this - "Aaiiieeee!" I scream as I am lifted in one of those pinchers and slammed against one metallic breast. "Oooww! Come on, man! Can't I at least get smashed against a guy's chest? If Mark Valley sees me like this, he'll never want me to comfort him after Pasedena is cancelled." Then again, knowing men, he probably would call right away.
"Excuse me, Pasedena is a good show!" the robot clanks.
"Yeah, but have you seen the time slot it is to be put in? It will be murdered, like the gruesome Kevin Williamson twosome Time Of Your Life and Wasteland. Although I think the last two TV shows are pants."
"Anyway, you will now die!" the robot says.
"Nooo!" I scream. "I don't want to be squashed to death on a write-o-bot's chest!"
Suddenly the robot just keel over. Ow! I fall onto the robot as it falls flat on its back. I poke its nose, only to scream when I realize it's not a nose but... never mind. The robot doesn't budge. It's quite dead.
I look around in wonder, and I gape at who I see holding the remote control. Mark Valley?
"Sorry I'm late. I was trying to figure out how to stop this thing so that I can save you," Mark says. Ooh, what a hunk.
"That's it? Can't you at least compensate for the lack of feminist assertions in this story with some gratuitous violence?"
"Oh, Jenniferette, you naughty girl, don't you know violence is so a no-no?"
I giggle as he lifts me into his brawny muscular arms.
"Say, how do you like the book anyway?" Mark asks as he sweeps me into the waiting Jaguar.
"Oh, it's okay, but it's not funny like Krentz's other works."
"Maybe I can make you laugh more," Mark promises.
I shiver in delight and anticipation. Ooh, I can't wait.
PS: Rating: 71
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