MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 1-55166-687-1
Romantic Suspense, 2003
Suzann Ledbetter breaks away from her frantic “Me, Me, Make Me the New Janet Evanovich!” series to present In Hot Pursuit. It’s less frantic and the old people here don’t make me want to add some laxatives in their porridges. The characters have lots of great potential as they aren’t the usual romantic suspense/mystery sorts. Unfortunately, the predictable way the author goes about telling the story doesn’t provide any added value to the story.
This story is set in cozy small town Pfister, Missouri. Naturally, there is a heroine that runs a quaint store, usually a bookstore, a pet store, a toy store, or in Jenna MacArthur’s case, an antique store. Add in old people whose idea of fun is to matchmake Jenna with any male stranger in town, and this story is all set to go. However, Jenna is actually a woman under the WPP for twenty years and counting now. Her life seems to be calm and peaceful now, until one day comes a man straight from her past. Paul Haggerty has undergone some cosmetic surgery (not out of vanity, so don’t worry) so she doesn’t recognize him. The town starts matchmaking them, but what will she do when she realizes that he was the junior partner of her late (murdered) cop husband? Then a murder happens. Like I said, right on schedule.
Jenna and Paul, fortysomethings in love, have plenty of potential, but the author doesn’t actually succeed in breaking the stereotypical mould she created her characters from. The old town old people matchmaking ha-ha schtick gets old a long time ago and this book isn’t going to bring on a revival anytime soon. Still, this book is readable and the author has toned down her over-the-top comedy that plagued her previous books for MIRA. It is only late in the story when the story tries to break out of the generic conventions of small town romantic suspense, and it’s a little too late, actually.
In Hot Pursuit is a readable book with a middling romance and a predictable mystery populated by a familiar cast in an overused setting. Yes, it will suffice if one wants some pleasant momentary diversion, but at the same time I find it hard to commend a book that tries so hard to be generic. Since when is being generic a virtue of creative writing, anyway?