Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-13618-2
Romantic Suspense, 2003 (Reissue)
Isn’t the world a scary place nowadays? In a time when sometimes it gets very hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys and there seems to be no more certainty in the way life is anymore, it’s always a nice relief to know that come what may, war or peace, rain or shine, Jayne Ann Krentz will be writing the same old stories with the same old characters day in day out. There is a wonderful assurance in reading her new book, and realize that, even when they are coming to repossess everything in the house and the cat while the boss is just waiting to retrench you the moment you step into the office the next day, there’s always Jayne Ann Krentz and that old comfy formula.
No, I’m not asking people to pay $7.99 for Light in Shadow, unless these people are die-hard fans that will buy everything with her name on it. If you are fed up of the same old stuff and still pay $7.99 for more, email me for my address so that you can just send that $7.99 check to me the next time you have money to waste.
Anyway, this one is wonderful in how it just refuses to break even a single rule in the author’s formula. The main characters with quirky traits or jobs, the jargon overkill, the psychic mumbo-jumbo – yup, welcome to Krentzsville. In this book, our heroine Zoe Luce (I love mispronouncing and saying that name out loud – “Zoi looo-cheh!”) hears dead people. She’s an interior decorator that, when she steps in a room where bad things have happened, hears walls screaming at her. No, I’m not joking. She met our hero Ethan Truax when she hired him to investigate her client whose walls she heard telling her that he killed his wife. She is correct, Ethan is suspicious as to how she knows about the murder, but she will never tell about her psychic abilities. The latter may be a good thing, as Ethan is like a modern-day Houdini in that while he is cynical about psychics, he harbors a fascination for investigating and debunking unsolved mysteries.
Today, Zoe and her friend are being blackmailed. She asks Ethan for help. Ethan, naturally, like all the author’s heroes, is attracted to her from the get go. The blackmail scheme may be related to the nasty family of Zoe’s late (murdered) husband. Isn’t this fun? What do the walls tell you, Zoe?
I find the premise interesting – it’s a far cry from the usual “quirky heroine with sophisticated job and mysterious action man hero getting together to solve a murder” plotline of this author, but sure enough, after the initial “Eeek! Eeek! What are you trying to tell me, my little brick wall?” premise, this one enters a familiar territory. The characters – well, what can I say? They’re what a Jayne Ann Krentz character should be. The murder mystery? As usual, quite unsophisticated and devoid of any gripping tension whatsoever. The romance is toned down like most of this author’s recent books, and I still miss those good old days when Jayne Ann Krentz writes first-rate romances instead of third-rate mysteries like she does now.
Still, it doesn’t matter, does it? A Jayne Ann Krentz book is a Jayne Ann Krentz book. I’m sure by now long-time readers have an exact idea of what I mean when I say that this book is “Jayne Ann Krentz”. And any author that can so industriously maintain her level of status quo to the point that her name becomes a vivid and descriptive adjective, well, that probably means the world is still alright, isn’t it? So what if the world outside is scary and unpredictable? Let me curl up under the sheets and read Light in Shadow. It sure beats switching on the evening news, at least.