Friday, April 19, 2013

Right and Left Grand

Author:  Rosalee Richland
Genre:  Mystery

2 Stars

Darla King is an ex-criminal investigator for the Florida State Attorney's Office turned square dance caller.  She changed careers because her husband was killed in the line of duty and she wanted to move out of state.  She now lives in a small town in Texas, and travels throughout the state calling dances.

Her life, however, gets complicated when a man turns up unconcious at a friend's ranch, and federal agents are at the home.  Suspecting more than meets the eye, Darla, along with her friends Doug, Sam, and Carlotta, decide that a mystery is near and attempt to find out who attacked the man and why.  The man, Nick, turns out to also be a square dancer, and he joins Darla's group of friends as a partner to Carlotta, who becomes interested in him.  Not wanting to see her friend hurt, Darla is resolved to find out exactly what Nick knows about the men who attacked him.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.  Since my own father was a square dancer in Texas, and I watched him several times,  I felt that I knew a little bit about it and would be interested in reading more.

Well, that's exactly what I knew:  a little bit.  This book, unfortunately, reads like a square dance manual.  Quite a bit of the action is centered around square dancing, and the author proceeds to explain every single thing she can about it - repeatedly.  Every single time there is a dance, the reader hears about every single move the dancer makes.  That would be fine if you were interested in square dancing; but if you're not, you probably won't be interested in this book.

Also, when the typical reader sees that the book is a mystery, it is naturally assumed - maybe wrongly, but still assumed - that it is a murder mystery.  This book is not.  It is not even a 'thriller'.  In the category Mystery, Crime and Thriller, it would be listed under crime.  And the crime itself is rarely spoken of.  Most of the time Darla is trying to find out what Nick has to do with the crime committed, and she doesn't even know what that crime is.

Darla, meanwhile, lives and breathes square dancing.  Example:  She goes to her daughter's apartment for Thanksgiving, and brings her square dancing CDs and equipment with her because a 'good caller will be prepared on a moment's notice.'  I ask you, who, on Thanksgiving Day is going to decide they want to go square dance and need to find a caller?  I would think most people would want to be with their families that day, and if perchance there were a dance scheduled they would already have a caller in place.  I think it was carried overboard somewhat.

It is like this - many books are written along the lines of the protagonist's career, but here is the difference:  If you were reading a book about a baker who specialized in cakes, and she told you every few pages that she was making another cake and listed every single ingredient every single time, I think you would probably tire of reading about cakes very quickly.  Most people don't want to hear that 'she added 2 eggs, 1 cup of milk,' etc., over and over.

The book itself was written well, and I would suggest to the author that in her follow up book (of which was stated at the end of this one), that she concentrate less on the square dance calling and more on the mystery.  Otherwise, she has boxed herself in to only one type of reader - that of the square dancer.

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