Happy World Book Day, and Dydd Dewi Sant Hapus, with daffodils.
Following my interview of B.A. Morton, here's my review of her novel 'Mrs Jones'.
A British girl with a secret.
A New York cop with a past.
And a mob that wants revenge.
In the slickest, sneakiest twistiest-turniest hard-boiled crime noir novel to come out in a long time, ruggedly pragmatic but honest cop Detective Tommy Connell picks up an English girl, Mrs Jones, who claims to be the witness to a murder, and promptly falls in love with her. Well, Mrs Jones, whoever she is, must be very attractive because an awful lot of people seem to want to get their hands on her if they can prise her from Connell's determined grasp, including some prominent representatives of organised crime and the Feds. Detective Connell definitely has his work cut out here if he wants to end up with the body of Mrs Jones, dead or alive, that's for sure. All-in-all it's probably safe to say he hasn't a clue what is going on. It is probably equally safe to guess that Mrs Jones does. Not that 'safe' is quite the right word to use here or, there again, maybe it is.
Jean Gill's review of 'Mrs Jones' by B.A. Morton
I came to 'Mrs Jones' with all kinds of preconceptions, not just the usual ones from blurb, cover and genre, but also knowing that it won a prize in the prestigious Yeovil Competition, and knowing that I liked the author's persona in interview.
Having entered (and failed) at the Yeovil, my response to the book was a mix of sour grapes and surprise at discovering that 'Mrs Jones' is not a powerful work of literature, full of deeply challenging insights. Then I forgot about what it isn't and enjoyed it for what it is.
This is a fast-paced, romantic detective story, racing through a few days in New York at the speed of a Hollywood car chase, and with the same enjoyment of gangland and shoot-outs, all described with just enough detail to let us imagine the action. The relationship between Connell and Mrs Jones is created with lively, humorous dialogue (if unconvincing in the American voice) and the premise of a Geordie girl with a New York cop is original and entertaining. Their mutual attraction must be eligible for a record as the longest foreplay in fiction, with seven or eight romantic scenes in which the interruptus to the desired coitus is delivered via every device from a small child to a police bust. This is too much frustration for my taste but other readers will enjoy what the author calls the 'will-they won't-they' hook. That much build-up ought to be satisfied by a wonderful climax shared with the reader but I found that frustrating too. If you want to know what I mean, you'll have to read the book yourself.
There are inevitably holes in the detective plot, which offers ever-new revelations. Some of them just don't fit with earlier details of behaviour and feelings, so forget realism. Connell and Mrs Jones are likeable characters, and the story is fun, often engaging the reader by letting her work out what's going on rather than having it hammered home. The other characters are merely the supporting cast.
'Mrs Jones' is great for light holiday reading. I was half-way through the book when my train reached Barcelona Station and I was irritated that I'd arrived so yes, I'd say it's an enjoyable page-turner, an action movie in print.
With any of my reviews, keep Hemingway in mind:-
'If it’s bad, I’ll hate it. If it’s good, then I’ll be envious and hate it even more. You don’t want the opinion of another writer.'