Friday, June 26, 2009

Review- Woman Justice by Rosalyn Wraight

Woman Justice
by Rosalyn Wraight
2004- Original pub 1999
Mystery/ Lesbian
Novel -200 pgs.
Ebook version

Buy it Amazon, Fictionwise, DLSIJ Press

What happens to all those characters a novelist creates? Could it be that they exist in an alternate plane? Could they be capable of returning to the writer, demanding a better, more fulfilling existence? This seems to be reality for Emily Decker, lauded mystery writer, when she is confronted by Milicent Baylor.

In her effort to get Milicent's existence past the burgeoning state, Emily writes a series of erotic stories, set in varying locales—from Alaska to Timbuktu. Each word, each sentence that Emily writes, makes Milicent stronger, more viable, more real. Emily places herself in these torrid tales and follows her character's regeneration. As Milicent grows in strength and character, Emily realizes she is falling in love with her own creation.

But all is not well in the real world...

The book opens with a police investigation into a pile of bones found in the woods. Detective Laura McCallister intends to solve the riddle. Whose bones are they? What do they have to do with Emily? What do they have to do with Milicent? How do Emily's father and housekeeper fit into this twisted scenario? Is anything as it appears to be?

I must say, I just don’t know whether the way this book was written was genius or totally lame. Although I was left feeling good overall about it, Woman Justice did put me through the ringer and I was left with lots of conflicting thoughts about his book.

Detective Laura McCallister is called when some bones are found in a park.

Famous mystery writer Emily Decker is having a bout of writer’s block and can’t seem to focus or get inspiration for her next book, which has been contracted with a sizable advance. Caroline, her agent, has been calling and asking what is going on, Olivia, her loyal housekeeper, is getting on her nerves because of her fussing about, and family issues that she’s ignored for years are coming to the forefront.

Emily is having a hard time dealing with life in general when out of nowhere a woman appears at her back door. Virtually a recluse, Emily is intrigued by this woman, especially when this woman claims she is Milicent, a character Emily created when she was much younger and first starting to write. Even though she questions whether Milicent is real or a figment of her imagination, Emily goes along with it not caring what’s real because for the first time in a long time, she’s turned on by something. Not only that, she cuts everyone out of her life to be with Milicent by pulling out the phone and not letting anyone enter her house, including Olivia.

In the meantime, she starts writing again, but not her book. She writes short stories about Milicent in exotic settings that express her inner erotic desires and love for Milicent because all along, Milicent talks to her and complains that Emily hasn’t written her story, her character, properly and she wishes Emily would write her the life that Emily promised. One day Milicent takes off and this pushes Emily to the brink.

OK, several things about this book got to me. I think author Rosalyn Wraight was gutsy to go a very unique route in this mystery and I have to give her some kudos for trying it. The thing is, it almost bombed for me. Many times. I got so fed up with this book on numerous occasions that if it weren’t for the fact that Ms. Wraight got me pissed and curious enough to see where this story was going, I would have ditched this book after the first 20 pgs. or so.

What really rectified this story for me was the ending. It blew my mind with several unexpected twists. It was well worth it to keep plugging along because that was the best part. And as an after thought, I did think several of the issues I did have with the book, were interesting in and of themselves if taken out of context.

My thoughts and impressions: first, there was a huge problem for me in the pacing of this story. It was all off for me, and frankly, I got agitated on more than one occasion because of it.

This book is a mystery with the introduction of detective McCallister. It starts out great with her starting the investigation. Shortly thereafter, the story switches to Emily and her situation, but without context or connection to the investigation. Unfortunately, Emily’s story goes on and on and on and I kept wondering what she has to do with all of this and why aren’t we getting any investigation? It felt as if I had started reading completely separate book. There are brief glimpses of the investigation after a long while, but it quickly goes back to Emily again. There was too much of a disconnect for me to feel a good flow between the story lines.

Then there are the stories that Emily is writing. There’s a string of very short stories that go on and on without any kind of fade back to Emily herself, or fade back to the investigation in between. By the third story in a row, I was getting frustrated. I got that Emily is trying to appease Milicent and work out her own feelings around her, but let’s get on with the main story again please.

Note: The short stories themselves, are very well written. Actually, they’re much better written than this whole book; very poetically erotic and creative. I think I would have appreciated them and what they were meant to do for this story much more if there weren’t so many in a row, but more interspersed throughout the story.

Another issue I had was the overuse of funky metaphors and similes and descriptors, which totally distracted me at times. It’s something I commented about in my review of Secrets and Sins, the second book in this series. This book was worse than the second book on this level, so hopefully it gets better as the series continues.

Some examples:

“There’s not much of it left,” she pelted, inching her sleeve up, exposing her watch to emphasize.

Emily swirled the one o’clock coffee in her mouth like a sewer drain in mid shower.

Out of the corner of her eyes, she noticed that the store had emptied itself for the week and would shut its blinds in sleep until Monday came around again.

The wrongness of the situation obsessed the room.

Problem number three; if I really go into it, it will give away too much of the mystery, but it was an issue that almost caused me to drop the book a few times. I’m not a huge fan of author characters treating their characters as real. I’ve read this plot device in a few books and it’s just too much for me to suspend disbelief in that. I just think it’s too hokey. Yes, we finally get to know why Emily is treating her character as real, and the end does make up for it. However, we’re talking about practically the whole book in which Emily is treating her character as real, since the end is just a few chapters.

I don’t want to leave the impression that I was very dissatisfied with this book though, I wasn’t. Overall, I will say that I loved this book. After the fact it is interesting to see what Ms. Wraight did and how it helped to get to the ending. And aside from the clunky wording here and there, her writing style is rather poetic and reflective. She also managed a shocking twist at the end, which totally made this book for me. That, and I like Laura McCallister as a character.

If you like mysteries, all I can say is hang in there with this one. While not a traditionally written one, Woman Justice still satisfies on so many levels. There’s not much of a romantic angle in this story as there was in Secrets and Sins, but there is some romance to this story, which can be felt more as an after effect.

Sex rating: Damp Panties- Lesbian--Ms. Wraight wrote the sexual scenarios more poetically, than graphically. Although some of the sexual situations were very erotic. I was a bit disappointed on this level only because at Fictionwise, where I bought the book, it’s listed under erotica. It’s so NOT erotica. The language is more sensual and alludes to rather than outright describes the sexual situations.

Grade: I have to give a mixed grade. C- for all the technical issues that I had with the book. B+ for the general overall feeling that I had with the book, including the surprise ending and unique take on this genre.

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