Joni Rodgers has enough chutzpah to turn a crime mystery tale with the requisite hard-boiled ex-cop and gutsy female protagonist into a romp with a noirish underside. I adored Smartie Breedlove and the way she really, really, loved her dog, and the hilarious turns of phrase that flowed so naturally, even at moments of high drama.
Rodgers allows her main character to act in a `fa-woosh!’ fashion without too much interference (good writing makes it seem that way!). Would the blowsy wit of phrases like “fracketty froo” and “fribbles in a snivet” have made it past the gatekeepers of traditional publishing? Probably not. Instead we get to chuckle out loud and be entertained. Some of the dialogue was so great I kept on getting the urge to share it with someone by reading it out loud.
With all the witty dialogue it’s easy to forget the opening scene. But Rodgers does a weirdly smart thing; interwoven with the investigation and writing of her own pulp fiction book are frequent mentions (by Smartie) of Hebrew rites and rituals for death and mourning, and somehow it’s effective. It makes Smartie a real person with a big heart, and it adds an uneasy painful layer to the frenetic action scenes. I thought the idea of Shiva – 7 days to mourn a loved one – was something Western civilization should adopt.
The obfuscation of the real story with Smartie’s fiction writing works brilliantly; the two versions continually appear to coalesce and then separate again. I couldn’t help wondering if Smartie wasn’t going to confound everyone by returning from the dead to participate in another near-fictional adventure of her own making.
Kill Smartie Breedlove is a great holiday e-book read!
See Joni Rodgers’ other fiction here.
30/06/2013 Footnote: The original cover had super-long sexy legs in black pantyhose and stilettos which I thought stood out head-and-shoulders above the crowd in terms of ultra-cool eye-catching design, but it suggested a noir thriller. The new cover version on Amazon and other sites featuring the very cute dog with jowls should attract readers who enjoy mystery novels with a smart, very human protagonist (more in line with Joni’s other novels). It would be interesting to know how the cover change affects sales.