MIRA, $6.50, ISBN 0-7783-2004-9
Paranormal Romantic Suspense, 2004
One of the problems of being stuck in a part of the world where internet connection is slow and I am forced to watch cable TV to pass the time, is that I watched more Hallmark TV movies these last two weeks than in my entire last year. Before I read Something Deadly, I am still reeling from a really awful TV movie about how a family dog overcomes cancer and changes the owners’ lives. A dog overcoming cancer? That’s really low even for Hallmark when it comes to plumbing manipulative and exploitative materials for bad TV tearjerkers.
Then comes this story. Its prologue indicates that the many dogs in this story will get to tell parts of the story from their points-of-view. But what works very well for me in Disney’s Homeward Bound (the original one – the sequel is terrible) does not work in this book at all. And I love dogs!
The main problem for me is that Ms Lee treats the dogs in this story not as dogs but as extensions of their human owners. These dogs behave like loyal, unthinking servants, like Lassie with ten times the duty complex. I like happy, naughty dogs, maybe because the dogs I know adon’t play fetch (we all agree that the game is stupid), they don’t roll over unless it’s to get me to scratch their tummy, and they certainly don’t howl, “Noooo! Please don’t leave me!” when they feel the Great Evil stealing their owners’ soul. The dogs in this story aren’t dogs as much as what the author believes that the dogs are thinking and behaving like, and in this case, the author makes the dogs too much like humorless, dour creatures that spent three years too long at doggie school.
And besides, dogs howling for their masters like some pathetic, helpless nitwits make me laugh. The prologue leaves me in stitches but that’s not the effect Ms Lee is looking for, so that’s rather unfortunate.
This inability of me to read through a doggie’s point of view without laughing like a loon and reading aloud the passages in question to the annoyed-looking pomeranian at my brother’s place is really a pity, because otherwise, this story is a pretty decent romantic suspense. For one, the main characters are free from the usual tired baggage so many romance authors believe their romantic suspense novels must have. The heroine Markie Cross is a vet in the island of San Martin while the hero is medical examiner Declan Quinn. They come together to investigate a series of deaths in San Martin. The victims suffer from a mysterious illness. Soon, they realize that all these strange events that disturb Markie’s dogs and leave so many people dead are tied up to a legendary Great Evil that may have returned to wreck havoc on San Martin.
There are some unnecessary skanky sex scenes that do nothing for this story. With this coupled to the especially unfortunate unintentionally hilarious doggy points-of-view, Something Deadly is one story that I just cannot get into. Those doggies just ain’t doing it for me, I’m afraid.