North Of Clever
by Suzann Ledbetter, contemporary (2001)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-848-3

The third in the Hannah Garvey/David Hendrickson mystery series (first is South Of Sanity, followed by East Of Peculiar, and now this, North Of Clever), this time Hannah gets the woe-me-and-Daddy blues as a circus magician Reilly Boone announces that he's her father.

When Reilly's wife AnnaLeigh is killed in Reilly's stunt, however, Hannah and David will have to entangle the mystery to clear Reilly's name. The dotty old inhabitants of Sanity, the old folks' retirement resort Hannah runs, lend an unwanted helping hand.

Let me start by saying that if I have one of my wishes granted, it will be authors like Suzann Ledbetter waking up one day as one of their "dotty old biddies and horny old perverts" characters. After the hundredth time jumping up and down against her heaving bosom as she shriek and grasp her poodles towards her pink-fluffy Barbara Cartland Version Grotesque lookalike form, Suzann Ledbetter will hopefully think twice before creating ridiculous and over-the-top unfunny old folk caricatures again.

The old people in this story make me wince. I swear again, if I end up like these dumb tofus, please, someone end my misery by pulling the plug. The day I exist only to provide unfunny kooky wisecracks and disrupt social order is the day I call the Dr Kervokian Hospice for a priority check-up.

Hannah and David together - alone - are the best moments, but these moments are few in between. In fact, they hardly demonstrate any attraction or chemistry here, as they are so busy fending off the marauding geriartic piranhas from taking over their lives. Hannah is a particularly weak character as she, on her own, is not very funny. She only comes to life when she's being flummoxed by everyone else. A heroine who is constantly reacting instead of initiating a reaction to her environment is not exactly what I call a strong heroine.

The author tries to pull off a Janet Evanovich by having a cliffhanger ending. David proposes - oh, will she say yes, will she say yes? I tell you what will most probably happen - the Geriartic Piranhas will jump into the scene with a gun and force those two to walk down the aisle. The end.

After all, this isn't Hannah and David's story. It's the story of badly-behaved, undignified, unrestrained, pink poodle and horny old coot idiots of the Alzheimer Brigade making me embarrassed to consider myself a person of golden years.

Rating: 52

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