Ace Is Wild
by Penny McCall, contemporary (2008)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-425-22298-0

Vivienne Foster, the heroine of Ace Is Wild, is psychic, but the story is actually quite down to earth, if you overlook the helicopters, bullets, and homicidal villains. Viv has a premonition that our hero, the US Attorney Daniel "Ace" Pierce, will die during a shoot-out that will take place during a bachelor auction that he takes part in. Therefore, she crashes the event, hoping to get to talk him into coming with her, but everyone thinks she is crazy so she has no choice but to whip out her .38 and takes Daniel hostage. Things become even more crazy from that point, whee!

This is a hybrid of action and comedy, so the characters get to work, cranking out sarcastic one-liners to each other hard and fast. I'm always up for a comedic romp with bullets and explosions, but alas, there is one fatal flaw with Ace Is Wild: the characters are incapable of showing human emotions. Ace and Viv are always "on", being flippant and sarcastic with each other even when bullets are flying past their ears and death is looming near. I'm confused. It's not as if Ace and, especially, Viv brave danger on a daily basis until they can laugh at it. Therefore, I am really thrown off-balance when, for example, early in the story those two have just escaped the bad guys by getting into an elevator and Viv then begins making sarcastic implications that Ace wants to frisk her and check her out. She's just held up a bachelor auction at gunpoint, barely escaped being shot at... and she's still under the impression that she's Janeane Garofalo?

This "on" mode affects everything in the story. When the characters are in danger, they exchange sarcastic quips. When they are supposedly experiencing a romantic moment, they are still exchanging sarcastic quips. While I'm all for sarcastic quips, this one-note "on" overload in the story has the unfortunate effect of making the whole story come off like a very long punchline. Do I feel anything for the one-dimensional sarcastic-quippy characters? Not really, since they are incapable of showing any human emotion in this story.

Read this for the comedy rather than the story, I'd say, and you'd be fine.

Rating: 71

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