Tuesday, January 19, 2010

*Dupe, by Liza Cody

my edition
subtitled: a kind of vegetarian mystery, meaning, one without meat.

Dupe is the first book of a series featuring private investigator Anna Lee. Anna was a cop, then realized that she was going nowhere (this was in the 80s, mind you) with her career, and she got a job with the Brierly security company as an investigator.  Her boss reluctantly assigns her to the case of Deirdre Jackson, who was found dead in a car accident. There seemed to be no hint of foul play, but the parents a) don't believe it for a minute and b) want to know what their close-mouthed little darling had been up to in the months previous to her death. So off Anna goes, and her investigations take her inside the cinematic world, where at least one person wants her off the case, and others have many secrets they're not giving up.

Anna is a kind of gutsy girl, and considering this was written in 1980, was a strong character for the time. Of course now we are reading about the guts and glory of Lisbeth Salander (from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo fame) so to us, Anna is a bit tame, but still, within the context of the time, a pretty rare kind of heroine. The supporting characters all have their own idiosyncracies (especially her boss and his assistant), and for a first effort, not bad. What I didn't really like was that probably about the first three-fourths of the book were all about Anna asking questions...very little action to speak of.  That only happens toward the very end, when things finally heat up and we get a clue that maybe Anna's put her nose somewhere where it don't belongs and someone's trying to stop her from asking more questions.  But I'll chalk this up to the book being the first in the series -- normally they're never as good as what follows.

Kind of dated, but I'd recommend it to people who read UK Crime fiction and who have maybe missed this one. Not a cozy, by any stretch, but it's also not a police procedural.  Overall -- not bad, not great, just average.

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