In this post, literary agent Nathan Bransford urges (begs, actually) authors not to ask whether or not we like a book, but to answer this question: did the author accomplish what she or he set out to do with her or his book?
So. Did Cindy Sample succeed in creating a gripping, humorous, and romantic mystery? The short answer: yes. I laughed, I didn’t want to put the book down, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading it (even without an air conditioner. More on that later).
The long answer: there were two small problems. And I’m being extremely nitpicky here. My first issue was with the details, and this is a personal preference. In a few places, Sample provided details that I didn’t care to know. Remember I’m nitpicking here, so my example is this: the color of the daughter’s backpack. It really made me pause and ask myself: Is this relevant? Answer: Not really. But this happened maybe five or six times in the whole book, and some readers feast on those kinds of details, anyway. Nitpicking. Personal preference.
The second issue was I found it hard to believe the hottie detective (who I really liked, by the way), would put his career in jeopardy to pursue a romance with a murder suspect (i.e. the main character). However, Joe Morelli constantly does the same thing with Stephanie Plum, and Janet Evanovich’s readers don’t complain. And really, so much else is moving the plot along that I didn’t have time to worry about this until after I read the book.
More on what I liked: the main character. Laurel McKay is funny and real. I could identify with her and loved her voice, her sense of humor, and the hilarious antics she gets herself into. Sample is dead on when she describes Laurel as Stephanie Plum as a soccer mom. There’s a great scene involving a clown suit and that’s all I’ll say here.
The best thing about the book: I literally couldn’t stop reading. Even when our car’s air conditioner disintegrated in eastern Nevada at 3 p.m. on our way to Colorado and I was so bitchy and uncomfortable I would have tossed any entertainment aside in favor of napping – I read on. Great, gripping reads stand the test of a disintegrated AC.
I’m looking forward to the next book, Dying for a Dance, because I want to see more of the minor characters too: the poker-playing daughter (without her green backpack), the best friend, and some others. Oh, and especially Detective Hottie. I mean, Detective Hunter.
So, did Sample accomplish what she set out to do with Dying for a Date? Most definitely. And hey, guess what: I liked it, too.
Feel free to check out my interview with Cindy, if you haven’t already.
Update: Cindy alerted me to a total review faux-pas in how I hinted something about the ending. If you read an earlier version of this review, I apologize! And apologies to Cindy as well.
Hmmm, sounds good. Maybe I’ll give this a try. Been needing a lighthearted replacement for Evanovich, now that I don’t like her new stuff anymore (her stuff through book 7 or 8 though, is still wonderful for re-reads. Especially 4 and 6. Those are my faves. Oh, and maybe 13, just for the exploding beaver. And whichever one has Lula on the Atkins diet.)
Evanovich’s sixth book is my all-time favorite. Husband’s too. We brought that to Colorado with us as well and both devoured it. I should give him Cindy’s book to see if he likes it as well.
I think Cindy’s book will stand the test of re-reading! It’s exciting to see a new author do so well with her first book.
Hi Dana. Thanks for checking out the review. I’m with you on the Stephanie Plum books. I loved books 4 through 6 and the one where Lulu is on the Atkins diet had me screaming with laughter. All dieting should be so funny. I’m honored that Beth put my hame and Janet Evanovich’s in the same sentence. Thanks for the comment.
I read when I can find the time and found “Dying for a Date” a very enjoyable read. the character development, detail, twist and turns had my mind intrigued. Having been in the mortgage biz and also from Northern California and recently widowed and thrown into the dating scene, Cindy had me sniffing the trail to find the killer right with Laurel! In fact, I had been a big fan of the Spenser novels by Robert Parker and felt that the detail was paramount to the kind of detail I needed to enjoy the book! Thanks, Cindy.
Yes, Stan, detail is so subjective! You’re one of the readers who loves it. If I were Cindy I probably wouldn’t change the details because so many people like them. I’m probably in the minority in my preference there.