After I read Lisa Scottoline's surprisingly amusing essay collection Why My Third Husband Will be a Dog a couple of weeks ago, I made the effort to read one of her mystery novels, for which she is much better known (most of her fiction titles frequently make the bestseller lists). I picked up the first title in her Mary DiNunzio series, Everywhere that Mary Went.
I enjoyed the novel tolerably well, by which I mean I largely liked it, was motivated to finish it, and didn't feel like Ms. Scottoline was a hack (a la James Patterson) when I was done. This is really all I ask of my mystery novels (which, with the exception of Agatha Christie novels, which I LOVE and consume and regularly re-read, are not books that I read all that often).
The story is engagingly simple: attorney Mary DiNunzio, a lifelong Philadelphia resident, is stressed because she is trying to make partner in her law firm. It doesn't help that her husband was killed by a hit-and-run driver a year previously, or that she is receiving weird and vaguely threatening anonymous notes and phone call hang-ups. Legal cases and Mary's growing suspicions of everyone around her ensue, all leading to a brisk conclusion with a suitably icky perp.
It was okay, but I don't need to read any more of her mysteries.* For one thing, I think most attorneys hate their careers, so I've never been interested in "legal thrillers" (I also usually get bored by the complexities of the stories and cases in books by authors like John Grisham). For another, I always feel vaguely unsatisfied when I finish even skillfully done genre books. I know that sounds book-snobby as hell, but I can't help it. I think it's because I try to lead an escapist life, so escapism is the last thing I need in my reading--there, I want good, thoughtful prose, characters who aren't developed primarily for their potential to star in a series, or some new factual or fun information or thoughts to ponder. It's just the way I roll.
*It didn't help my enjoyment of the situation that I finished the book as I was sitting at the auto mechanic's, feeling like I was getting screwed. I don't know that I was, but as a girl at the mechanic's, that's just always the way I feel. ("Look! It's a girl! With a checkbook! Make up something plausible sounding and show her something questionable-looking on her car to pad the bill!") It put me in a bad mood.