Lately, I’ve really been loving Paranormal Women’s Fiction, which is Urban Fantasy with heroines in their 40s. So, when I came across Harry Connolly‘s A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark, with a heroine in her 60s, I just had to jump on board. So, I ran out and purchased a copy.
A MYSTERIOUS KILLING
After years of waging a secret war against the supernatural, Marley Jacobs put away her wooden stakes and silver bullets, then turned her back on violence. She declared Seattle, her city, a safe zone for everyone, living and undead. There would be no more preternatural murder under her watch.
But waging peace can make as many enemies as waging war, and when Marley’s nephew turns up dead in circumstances suspiciously like a vampire feeding, she must look into it. Is there a new arrival in town? Is someone trying to destroy her fragile truce? Or was her nephew murdered because he was, quite frankly, a complete tool?
As Marley investigates her nephew’s death, she discovers he had been secretly dabbling in the supernatural himself. What, exactly, had he been up to, and who had he been doing it with? More importantly, does it threaten the peace she has worked so hard to create? (Spoiler: yeah, it absolutely does.)
Well, this was a real winner to me. I quite enjoyed my time with Marley Jacobs. In fact, I want to be Marley when I grow up! I loved that she’s smart and capable, with a wealth of knowledge and experience under her belt. I also like that having a 20-year-old ex-soldier as her sidekick really subverts the idea of a hero. (You’d expect it be to him, after all). And the banter between the two, as well as Albert’s simple humor was great. I appreciated Connolly’s obvious attempt to highlight the invisibility of older women in society, but even I have to admit it sometimes came across with the subtlety of bull horn.
But there were a few things that didn’t work for me. As outside the mold as Marley was in some ways her character really stuck to some cliches. The worst for me was her constant use of the endearment dear. “It’s all right, dear.” “Very well, dear.” “Would you like a cup of coffee, dear.” I understand it was part of her aggressively cheerful demeanor, but it’s a huge pet peeve of mine and I’m gonna have a little rant about it.
I don’t know a single elderly woman who actually uses the endearment dear in any manner but ironically. Depending on where you draw your line on ‘elder,’ these women lived through free love, Woodstock, world wars and economic depressions. They have seen some shit and come through it. They have internal cores of steel. And this insistence in fiction that they must all be cute little old ladies who coo and call everyone dear constantly drives me nuts.
I realize that this might be regional and there might be old women out there who say it. But that it’s no where near as ubiquitous as authors seem to think it is is a hill I’ll die on. So, mega pet peeve for me. It’s just SO cliched at this point. Plus, my Kindle says dear appeared 251 times in the book and I don’t remember many (if any) that weren’t Marley using it as an endearment. So, Connolly is particularity bad about something that especially irritates me.
I also thought the middle sagged. The books starts out really strong, then turns into a series of go here, do this, go here, run there, do that, then go here again, etc. Then it picks up again at the end. Though I kind of feel like the ending undermines a lot of what Connolly was very obviously trying to do with the narrative. He set out a whole story about a 65-year-old kickass woman and then handed it all to the young man at the end. One could maybe argue the last few sentences redeem it, but I think it’s a little too vague to be given credit.
Lastly, the editing starts to deteriorate the farther in to the book you get. It’s never horrendous, but you notice.
Over all, however, I enjoyed the heck out of this.