When the Leaves start to turn,
Pauline Palmer (1865-1938)
oil on art board.
Call it an innate distrust of the crowd/mob/herd instinct, a remnant of childish disobedience, or simply sheer, stubborn, contrary cussedness, but whenever I see excessive ooh ahhh luuurve about a particular author I react by avoiding that writer.
And so it was with Janet Evanovich.
Until I came recently across a used copy of an Alexandra Barnaby adventure, Metro Girl.
What a hoot! What a deliberate, delicious use of improbable coincidence in both plot and character! What an absence of angsty monologue! What fun!... !! and !!!
I must say though, that secondary characters and aids to action, Rosa Louisa Francesca Florez, who rolls and smokes cigars, and an old school friend Jude (Judey) -- the most perfectly priceless, insouciant gay guy I've ever read -- nearly upstage the heroine and her NASCAR accomplice.
In a sense, the story is an urban fantasy sans anything paranormal and what anchors it is Evaovich's choice of realism.
First is the setting. Though I've never been there and must rely largely on photos and CSI, the Miami of the story -- its slips, beaches and clubs -- reads real. Am not really sure how to classify the other thing, but when cars or boats, driving or diving appear, however casually, one has an impression, an assurance, she knows what she's writing about. This sense of authenticity didn't cause me to suspend disbelief exactly but it did allow me to thoroughly enjoy the comedy of wacky characters and the total impossibility of the plot.
And so I wonder if this is a key technique in all successful stories. We need a few specific anchors to the real in all fantasies and adventures; and, conversely, we like a touch of fantasy in the most gritty and grimly realistic tale.
Oh, and Book Roast has editors and agents on the grill this week.