Wednesday, March 30, 2011

She Waits by Kate Sweeney

Book:  She Waits
Author:  Kate Sweeney
Publisher:  Intaglio Publications

I've mentioned it before in the blog, but it bears repeating that I grew up in Illinois.  I chose Kate Sweeney, and the first book of her Kate Ryan series because the heroine is from Illinois.  Granted, her world is about 10 hours north from where I grew up, but anyone that knows Illinois is singular not plural is a friend of mine.

And it doesn't hurt one little bit that she knows the pain of loving the Cubbies!

In this book we meet Kate Ryan, a soft butch nature photographer and former PI.  We learn that she left a successful PI business after falling in love with a murder, who almost killed both her and her partner.  She tries to be uber stoic, and mostly succeeds.  She is prone to panic attacks, but only when she's reminded of her greatest failure.  She's also prone to tripping, slipping, flipping, and going 'bump' in the night.  Kate is told of a friend of friends in the western part of the state that has had some problems.  Kate offers to help, but the help is rebuffed.  Still, as in any solid piece of lesbian literature, as she drives through the countryside, on her way to a lovely weekend, she, her dog, and her car, run, quite literally, into the lovely, auburn-haired Dr. Maggie Winfield.  Maggie is as high-spirited as her horse, Thunder, with a stubborn and sarcastic streak to boot.  Maggie's Aunt Hannah promptly arrives on the scene in a runaway golf cart, and the mystery begins.

Ooh, and if you haven't figured it out yet, Maggie is the 'friend of friends in the western part of the state that had some problems.'

Aunt Hannah piles the girls and the dog into the golf cart, and spirits them back to the mansion . . . yup, Maggie is loaded.  Long story short, somebody is trying to kill, or simply maim, Maggie, there is a ghost in the woods, the dog unburies Maggie's dead mom's long stolen jewelry, and the mystery is afoot.  Soon, Hannah kidnaps Kate's car, invites her to stay, invites Kate's sister and b-i-l to visit, and the mystery grows deeper.  So does the friendship, the appreciation, and the attraction between Kate and Maggie.

Oh, yeah, and the mystery finally gets solved!

This is a fun little who-dun-it, with some nicely compelling characters.  Kate is wounded spiritually, but her self-described 'emotionally detached loop' keeps most of the unpleasant things from slopping out over the sides.  Maggie is wounded as well, but hers comes from abandonment issues and loneliness.  Hannah is sweet, endearing, and a bit squirrely.  Teri is spooky but solid, and Mac is a good guy to have in your corner.  The book is also sprinkled with other minor, but completely necessary characters.

One of my peeves as a reader is when an author introduces a character to make something happen in the midst of a good story, then the character that played this really important role, just disappears.

Makes me want to flick their literary ear.  Twang!

But, by the grace of little, green, dancing leprechauns, Ms. Sweeney sidesteps this beat-over plot device in grand fashion!


The mystery was complex but tight; the leads had a plausible beginning, middle, and end; and there were no goofy red herrings that you could smell a mile away.

I loved the tension that surrounded Kate and Maggie.  I'll tell you now, they did not fall hopelessly in love by the end of the book.  They have a very point/counter-point relationship.  One minute they are on the same wavelength, the next they are annoying the snot out of each other.  Still, they are obviously drawn to one another, and everyone but them gets it.  The only thing they fall hopelessly into by the end of the book is a deep and complicated friendship.  Kate needs to face some of her demons, and Maggie needs to learn to trust and wait just a little bit more.

Of course, this is the first book in the series, so you have to leave a little somethin' somethin' to grow on.

And, I guess that's one of the things I really liked about this book - the author isn't rushing the bigger scope of the story.  She used the first book in the series to introduce the characters.  Yeah, yeah, there was a good mystery in here, don't get me wrong.  But, just like almost any friendship, we see the learning and trust building over time.

Another quick little thing I liked about the book is that the dog didn't always obey, she was loyal and loving, but she was a wuss and hid under the bed when things got scary.  If she had only peed on the shoes of the villianness, I would have been in hea-ven! [insert singsong voice]

I do have to say, though, I did guess the ending about half way through the story.  It just seemed to be telegraphed.  Of course, it is possible that the author intended this story to be more about the journey than the destination.  Meaning, watching Kate put the clues together instead of screeching, "Colonel Mustard in the Library with a nipple clamp!!!" at the first opportunity.

Bottom line is that I've read one Kate Sweeney book, and am happily about 60% of the way through the second, with more to come. She is a smart, careful, focused writer who doesn't force her readers to make huge leaps of faith.  Her characters stay consistent, and she weaves a solid story that doesn't take short cuts.

On the Rainbow Scale, I'd give She Waits a clear and present 5.3 out of 6.

No comments:

Post a Comment