Don't Look Back
by Amanda Quick, historical (2003)
Bantam, $7.50, ISBN 0-553-58339-5

Amanda Quick is one of those authors who have become so irrelevant that we need to ship her to Borra Borra. Maybe a month or two living among new scenery will rejuvenate her creative juices. She is a good storyteller and she is a master when it comes to creating characters that sparkle with wit and humor. But after 13,657,113,008,765 books featuring the same old characters in the same old plot, I'll be surprised if many of her fans haven't short-circuited from boredom by now.

Don't Look Back follows the same characters that first appeared in Something Shady. Our heroine Lavinia has now opened her own PI business because being held at gunpoint in the last book as the villain blabbed all about those nefarious plans invalidates one's belief in one's own PI skills. Her lover Tobias - who is waiting for one more book at least before they marry - has to step in and shake his head - among other things - at her. The secondary couple Emmeline and Anthony - the best things about this book - make an appearence as our lead couple get themselves entangled in a very standard Amanda Quick murder mystery. Expect the usual jargon overkill, dead bodies discovered in perfect timing, red herrings, and a villain who also functions as an expositionary plot device.

There are some nice moments here that reminds me why I even thought the author is good in the first place, these moments mostly having to do with Emmeline and Anthony. They are such an adorable couple. For the most part, however, Ms Quick is a serious mainstream author now. She's all about the mystery. Of course, unlike romance where one can stretch the same old snit for sixteen million books and still no one the wiser, recycling the same old schtick in mystery - a genre that thrives on unpredictability - doesn't work too well for this author. It's a case of an author who hits it big by lazily recycling her schtick but unable to adapt to the times. If she was once the queen of bestselling romance, today she may just be the empress with no clothes instead.

Borra Borra, Ms Quick. Please think about it.

Rating: 63

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