Monday, March 3, 2014

The author was too polite to call it Dead Whores: The Mystery

Book: Fallen Women
Author: Sandra Dallas
Published: 2013 (St. Martins Press)
Pages: 338
Prostitution murder in the growing West! An estranged sister overcoming guilt of how she could’ve been a better protector! Purple prose of the grisly details spread by reporters and gossiping society ladies in tacky houses making things worse!
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? And it is, sort of, and the author manages to keep under soap-opera levels the twists that drive this tale of family dysfunction and a wild girl’s escape to the brothels where she would ultimately die in just a different side of the same disgrace for which she got kicked out. 

But I suspect that’s because the story is filtered through the main character’s flatness. The emotional repression runs so thoroughly through this New York lady of wealth and philanthropy that I don’t believe for a second that she 1. is sad about her sister dying 2. at one time got mad enough at her sister to throw her sister out when said sister was caught doin’ it with the lady’s (now ex, duh-hoi) husband and 3. falls in love with the detective she stubbornly teams up with in Denver to solve her sister’s murder.
 I was told all this but I still don’t believe it, and I’m not entirely sure why because the story was told clearly enough for me to guess the true murder circumstances a couple steps ahead of the protagonist but not so far ahead so it was agony waiting for her to catch up. I guess the key word here is “told,” maybe, which describes this story a lot better than “shown” or “felt.” And the end does that disappointing thing where there’s a wimpy little epilogue that does nothing but confirm that the characters do in fact eventually get to their most obvious points conclusion of what happened over the past 300 pages.
The historical bits in the back about how prostitution grew in Denver as it became a city in its own right were truly interesting. If this lady has written a non-fiction book about that, I would totally read it. But this is going back to the library anyways.
It was on my 200 Books to Check Out Before, You Know, Whenever list and actually makes a really good example of those because it’s something that looked interesting because of the subject and title and cover but not something I’d heard anything about before I read it. Your Local Library is excellent for those May Or May Not Be Goods (and about a million other things too of course).  

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