Yet another female eye from the eighties-nineties female gumshoe boom, although at least this one doesn't hail from Southern California -- BLAINE STEWART's a Jersey girl through and through, who tools around Noo Yawk with her homie Springsteen blasting on the tape deck (most of the books in the series boast titles nicked from the Boss' oeuvre). That's about it for her virtues.
Instead of a well-rounded character, this Kinsey Millhone/V.I. Warshawski wannabe is just a checklist of characteristics that added up but never quite gelled for me. Long, red hair; still grieving over the murder of her cop husband two years previous; still in recovery from a bout with alcoholism; an exercise buff; prone to self-pity, and a streak of pigheadedness. She comes off as a spoiled, petulant, self-centred know-it-all.
No wonder her sister and partner, Eileen, a lawyer, have an uneasy partnership. Blaine and Eileen run a small Manhattan agency together, with Eileen handling the legal chores and Blaine handling the investigating and security work. The story is that after his beloved Jeff's death in a drug bust gone bad, Blaine, herself a cop, left the NYPD and crawled into a bottle. Eileen helped her clean herself up, and they went into business together. They seem to be doing okay, at least financially. After all, Blaine tools around in a Porsche. And, of course, she runs. And of course, she has a problem with male authority figures.
As a former cop, Blaine should know better, but she frequently hides or tampers with evidence, and is usually less than forthcoming with the police, usually for no other reason than that it's expected in the genre.
Which is the real problem with the series -- it's so earnest and well-intentioned and eager to play up to what's expected that it smothers anything original or fresh.
All in all, an pretty unbelievable character, a sort of Frankenstein's monster stitched together from current P.I. clichés. Ho hum.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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