My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I really had a hard time getting into the suspense novel, Playing Dead by Jody Lebel. While the suspense plot line of the book had merit and some interesting twists, I found that I couldn’t get past a heroine who I realized I didn’t like.
Renee Rose is a court reporter. She has seen the low of the low and unfortunately even married a scum bag who happened to be a cop. Needless to say she has steered clear of men in blue since her divorce but she finds herself immediately attracted to Detective Anthony Graciano who is assigned to help her best friend, Liz, who is getting emails from her dead husband asking for money.
That sounds like a good story. And it is, except for two things.
First, Renee’s reaction to her attraction to Detective Graciano is to pick a fight with him every time he opens his mouth. While I like a couple who aren’t afraid to do some verbal sparring, constant bickering while secretly lusting after a man seems incredibly childish for an independent woman. Even for a woman who still has emotional scars from her last failed romance.
Second, Renee is babysitting an exchange student who is supposed to be staying with her mother. I found the stereotypical portrayal of the ignorant foreigner a little over the top. While the story does attempt to explain some cultural differences, Detective Graciano’s instant dislike for Hanif is too unfounded to be believable.
There are some good moments in the story which prove Lebel’s talent as a novelist even though this offering didn’t always hit the mark for me on character actions and emotions. I look forward to reading Lebel’s future novels and I predict that as she refines her craft she’ll be an author to keep an eye on.