Murder Is the Deal of the Day by Robert J. Randisi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
When two women are found dead, smothered on their couches with tapes of Claire Hunt and her Home Mall shopping show playing in their VCRs, Claire and her husband Gil decide to play detective and find the killer themselves...
I really wanted to like this. After a so-so experience with another Randisi novel, I had the chance to take part in a phone interview with Randisi and his wife, the co-author of this piece, Christine Matthews, and they were hilarious. Too bad the book wasn't great. I didn't precisely hate it but it was not good. Is that clear enough?
The book went back and forth between illogical and just annoying. First off, the police treat Claire like a suspect because a video of her was playing on the victim's TVs. What the hell kind of sense does that make? Beyond that, the police are just set dressing while Gil and Claire coo over one another and run around Saint Louis tracking down leads.
The blurb on the back compares Gil and Claire to Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man. Yeah, they're a married couple but they lack the alcohol and sense of humor that makes Nick and Nora so entertaining. They're much more like Spenser and Susan Silverman, except less competent or interesting. They were like that annoying couple you're friends with on Facebook who are constantly updating their status with crap like "I love my wonderful husband!" Getting reminded how perfect their relationship is on every other page got old really fast.
The writing was really bland. Randisi has a reputation for being one of the last pulp writers but I don't think they mean that in the Chandler-Hammett sense, more in the sense of how Walter Gibson could churn out 2 or 3 Shadow novels a month back in the day. Of course, when you're busting out one or more of those Gunsmith dirty westerns every month under a pen name, you don't have time for similes, metaphors, or colorful adjectives, I guess.
I enjoyed the St. Louis references and the fact that Gil owned a bookstore but that was pretty much it. I guess the story was engaging but when there are only two suspects and one of them has cutaway scenes, you pretty much know who's doing the killing. It wasn't total crap so I'm giving it a two. It's definitely not recommended, though. I think I'm done with Randisi unless I pick up one of his Gunsmith books for comedy reasons.
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