Right on the Monetby Malcolm Parnell
Claude Monet painting is stolen
Of all the things Harry Chase had imagined in his life, being a drummer on a cruise ship band was not one that would have occurred to him. And yet, there he was. Centre stage, behind a young female singer along with his mates, Dave, Tony and Steve.
Which meant that getting involved in a jewellery theft, an on-board massage parlour and the hunt for an Old Master was even further from his mind as he cracked the snare drum.
And yet, this was exactly how he found himself being questioned by Interpol â€¦..
This is the third book in a series but enough context is given to allow you to pick up the story if you are starting with this book.
The story line was inventive. Â The mystery was complicated enough with enough red herrings to sustain the whole book. There was a fairly large cast and I was able to keep the male characters straight because they each had distinct personalities and character traits.
It did drive me batty that every time they went into a new country on this cruise all they did was shop. Who does that? You are supposed to go sightseeing. Â But that story choice leads into my main problem with this book — its lazy characterization of women.
At heart this is a male fantasy where all the women are attracted to the main character and try to get him to have sex with them even though they know his partner.
One of the first things I noticed about this book is how many breasts were in it. Â I know this because they were pointed out every time they appeared in a scene. I sighed and reminded myself that I don’t read a lot of male fiction authors and sometimes these authors are distracted easily. Â Also every female character was introduced not by her purpose in the narrative or her relationship to other characters but by her appearance and sexual desirability. Then I got to this line.
“Like Clem, Liz was blonde and although approaching her mid-forties was still a very attractive woman.”
No, sir. Nope. Done. Automatic DNF from this 45 year old hag. It puts me in mind of this:
But alas, this is not the real world, this is a review book so I soldiered on.
“I looked at the five women sitting around the table and realised that any man would give his eye teeth to spend a night with any one of them;”
At the time the people were having important conversations but that’s ok, ignore that and focus on reducing them to your sexual fantasies.
The resolution of the plot isn’t even allowed to escape.
“Within minutes two squad cars containing plane (sic) clothes detectives had arrived along with two cars carrying uniformed police; one of whom was a very attractive WPC, and I made a mental note to somehow get Cara a police uniform.”
At one point there is this description:
“The barman was small and effeminate, his head was shaved at the sides, and he wore a black ponytail tied up in a top knot. The badge on the lapel of his bright red waistcoat said Sam. He seemed vaguely familiar. â€œI havenâ€™t seen you guys in here before,â€ he said holding out a limp wrist. His accent was either American or Canadian.
I shook his hand, and his fingers collapsed in my grip; a similar experience to squeezing a soft rubber ball. â€œNo, first time,â€ I replied surreptitiously wiping my hand on my trouser leg.”
If that isn’t bad enough, he is referred to later in this conversation.
â€œItâ€™s a good picture of that blokeâ€™s arse,â€ Steve added, â€œmaybe we could take it to Sam, the barman, he might recognise it.â€
Contrast this to the treatment of one of the main characters who is a lesbian. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that in this book, except for one character’s repeated attempts to sleep with her because all lesbians just need a man to show them what they are missing, right? /sarcasm. Â Even she is interested in having the main character watch her have sex. (Sadly, not even joking.)
If you like your mysteries served with a large topping of sexist banter on top, then you might enjoy this one.Â