You've Got A Hold On Me
by Tamara Sneed, contemporary (2004)
St Martin's Press, $6.99, ISBN 0-312-98729-3

Predictable and barely two-dimensional characters, unconvincing investigative protocol, and a writing style I find rather clunky at places suggest that Tamara Sneed's post-Arabesque debut You've Got A Hold On Me has a chokehold on all the wrong things.

Assistant District Attorney Amelia Farrow, our heroine, and Defense Attorney George Gibson, our hero, use the courthouses of Los Angeles as their playground to childishly call each other names and irritate each other for the heck of it. When their latest childish antagonism spilling onto their cases causes them both to be kicked out of the courtroom, they are still going at it until they, in a hilariously contrived set-up, overhears someone plotting the murder the judge and the jurors of a Very Big Case and the sound of gunshot. Amelia reports the case while George goes home, unconcerned.

When Amelia is assaulted over this, George feels guilty (don't ask) and decides to get together to conduct their own investigation. This leads to wonderfully reassuring scenes of lawyers breaking into rooms and tampering with evidences to back up a case that they know they are in the right. And sparks fly. Right over my head because I don't see any of it.

The suspense is a dud because it's predictable and there are also some moments of illogical coincidences and circumstances that lead to our hero and heroine's triumph. But more annoying is the fact that the characters come off like cardboard cut-outs of clichés rather than realistic people. George is a singularly mule-headed hero who thinks that all women and judges are lying jerks. Amelia is the ex-model district attorney with the air of a debutante (is that supposed to be a good thing?) who predictably has daddy and self-esteem issues up to her neck. She also has a very antiquated outlook on sex and marriage that would be more at home in a romance novel set in early last century. Both characters have very simplistic conflicts and one-dimensional issues that drag on and on, making those two coming off as very feeble-minded indeed.

If Tamara Sneed in You've Got A Hold On Me has let go of her too-careful adherence to some antiquated notions of romance hero and romance heroine behaviors as well as taken the time to work out a more credible suspense plot, it'll really take hold on me. Maybe in the next book, I guess.

Rating: 59

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