August 2, 2009

Sweet Mary by Liz Balmsaeda

After Liz Balmseada won two Pulitzer Prizes, she gives us a female centered detective novel in Sweet Mary. A single mother, the titled Dulce Maria, Mary for short, is arrested. The victim of an improbable case of mistaken identity, Mary is fingered as a drug queen. The false charges ruin her life, so Mary decides to do what the DEA couldn’t—take down the criminal herself. With a little help from her friends, one of which is a sexy past love interest, Mary embarks on a series of schemes to reclaim her good reputation.

It’s kind of a given that Balmseada is a good writer, so it isn’t a surprise that the writing is good. The characters are also surprising layered for the genre. Even the bad guys are complex, and are given sufficient back story. Balmseada also used restraint with the action sequences which keeps this story from entirely going over the top.

That said, the plot itself consists of coincidences and implausible leaps. Balmseada also can’t resist the bumbling law enforcement clich├ęs which adds the story’s stale feel. Each chapter opening up with a description of the scene is also irritating as if Balmseada was already thinking movie. The pacing seems to fall flat in the second half of the novel where Mary bumps into leads cushioned by saccharine sweet interludes. I expected more.

1 comment:

  1. Ah--at the first, my interest was very piqued, but I think I'll pass on this one. There are too many really good books out there.


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