Created by Lori Stone
Dear Mr. Smith,
Rumour, which may or may not speak with false tongue, has it that JEAN PEARSON, heroine of the new self-published book The Black Squall, is in fact the daughter of sort-of sleuth Travis McGee. Whether this means she merits inclusion on your site in her own right is a matter for your decision, but at least she deserves a mention just because of the rumours. There's a link to the book from my site and it appears that through a mutual acquaintance I may soon be having a word with the author soon. Hmmmm. I'll see what I can find out.
Here's the blurb, right from the publisher's site:
"In this fast-paced thriller a young widow turns to crime to solve the mystery of her adventurous father's murder at Bahia Mar in Fort Lauderdale.
Jean Pearson, a 29-year-old veterinarian from Youngstown, Ohio, arrives in Fort Lauderdale to arrange for the funeral of her father and uncle. It appears that they died in a typical gasoline engine boating explosion until Jean learns that the blast was caused by a bomb. She hardly has time to react to this news when she is pursued in a high-speed car chase, and barely escapes being kidnapped. Frightened and alone, Jean meets a girlhood friend, a wealthy Anglo-Mexican socialite, who invites Jean to stay aboard her yacht.
Together they set out to investigate the murders, and they soon uncover a web of treachery that leads to government corruption, tangled conspiracies, cocaine smuggling, and a billion-dollar land fraud scheme. Targeted for assassination, they find themselves being hunted by both the villains and the police as they careen through Florida in a desperate gamble to find the only evidence which will ensure their survival. They make their way to a battered womenâ·s shelter, Jean kills a corrupt police officer, their world turns upside down, and they roar off on a motorcycle stolen from a gang member as they ricochet toward their first adventure's startling conclusion."
That stuff about her father and her uncle dying in a boating accident - it has Trav and Meyer written all over it, n'est pas? There may be a merry game of spot the allusion to be had here.
But whether the rumours play out or not, this has been receiving some decent reviews.
- "We were up against some very determined people, and it was clear that we couldn't afford to trust anyone. Next came a light snack of lemon tea and crumpets, followed by a much needed nap."
I think these lines pretty much sum up the problem with Lori Stone's self-published The Black Squall. Typically, tea and crumpets and naptime don't play a big role in P.I. novels; what you have here is a story that doesn't know what it wants to be when it grows up. Is it a PI novel? Is it "women's fiction?" Only its hairdresser knows for sure. Does that matter? After all, one of the advantages of the "new publishing" is the freedom to kick off the old restrictions of genresque limitations.
In this case, yes, I think it does matter. One of the main points of interest about The Black Squall is that Lori Stone has voluntarily picked up the torch dropped by the late, great John D. MacDonald. She's crowned herself heir to the Travis McGee dynasty, which opens The Black Squall up for a chillier appraisal than a first novel might normally receive. Comparisons are inevitable. Which isn't to say that I don't like Stone's premise: her protagonist, 29-year old Jean Pearson, arrives in Fort Lauderdale to arrange the funeral of her father and uncle who have just died in an engine explosion on a boat. A little investigation reveals that the explosion was no accident. Jean and an old school chum decide to investigate.
The Black Squall supplies the necessary foundation to what could be a wowser series, but I feel Stone needs to focus on what she's trying to do. She needs to pinpoint her audience and write to either a romantic-suspense sensibility or a hard-boiled sensibility; she can't do both. The novel is further weakened by a writing style that I can only describe as "school girl." And yet, for all that, The Black Squall is rather a fun read and an inveigling proposition for a new PI series."
-- D.L. Browne
Respectfully submitted by Big Bill. Thanks a million (less fifty percent finder's fee) for the scoop.
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