Monday, March 30, 2009

Jenn's Review: Nothing But Trouble

Summary: PJ Sugar knows three things for sure:

After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the trail of disaster that’s become her life, she needs a fresh start.

The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister’s wedding is Boone—her former flame and the reason she left town.

Her best friend’s husband absolutely did not commit the first murder Kellogg, Minnesota, has seen in more than a decade.

What PJ doesn’t know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she’ll uncover much more than she bargained for—a deadly conspiracy, a knack for investigation, and maybe, just maybe, that fresh start she’s been longing for.

Review: I received this as a LibraryThing Early Review. In all fairness to all parties, and as you can plainly see above, there is no reference to the fact that Susan May Warren is a Christian Lit author in the LibraryThing blurb. If there had been, I never would have requested to review the book. Not that I have anything against Christianity or any other religion, for that matter, (I just don't like points of view, religious or political, being forced on me) and I'm certainly not here to spark a religious debate. However a review is only as strong as the reviewer's point of view, so here goes.


The phrase "That was before I was Christian," is tossed around in this novel by several characters in an attempt to excuse everything from Grand Larceny to refusing to date someone. This type of blanket moral escapism infuriates me. Being Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc. makes you who you are, but it doesn't automatically make you a better person. It doesn't excuse past wrongs and it doesn't preclude a person from making mistakes in the future. There is no celestial delete key. PJ also credits surrendering to Jesus with her dumb-luck in solving the case and nearly getting herself, her nephew, and her friends killed in the process. Actually the only times that PJ turns to prayer in the book are in passing and it seems purely self-serving. I could have looked beyond all of it if it didn't seem so forced into the story. It almost feels like the author went back and added it as an afterthought.


Religion aside, neither the plot nor the characters have much depth. I had a hard time finding likable character. PJ's mother is supposed to be a hard woman with soft heart but she's so flat as a character that it just comes off as inconsistent writing. Her sister is too busy creating her own perfect career and marriage to pay any heed to her attention starved toddler; she just uses PJ. Boone, her high school sweetheart, wants her back but won't trust her and completely dismisses her opinions. PJ herself seems to be a 10¢ knock off of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, with none of the humor or charm. She has a bad-girl reputation she didn't earn and is really just a drifter who ran from her problems and never grew up.



The plot is far fetched, at best. (Who goes to a shooting range on a date?!? Oh, wait, it was just a rather obvious plot device.) In the end, PJ is hired by a detective agency, but for the life of me, I don't know why. (At least with Stephanie Plum, the fact that she still has a job makes sense; Vinnie is (blackmailed) family and Ranger finds her amusing.) And PJ's country club privileges are restored... because that's what's important, right?



If you're looking for a Christian Stephanie Plum with no personality, this is the book for you.




Final Take: 1/5

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