Wednesday, December 12, 2018

SNARKY DNF: Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

"Actress Dayna Anderson's Deadly New Role: Homicide DetectiveDayna Anderson doesn't set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke actress wants is to help her parents keep their house.

So after witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she pursues the fifteen grand reward. But Dayna soon finds herself doing a full-on investigation, wanting more than just money―she wants justice for the victim.

She chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes, and movie premieres, loving every second of it―until someone tries to kill her. And there are no second takes in real life."
Granted I had hesitations to begin with, considering the book's Hollywood setting.  You know, all the superficial and stereotypical stuff I would have to get through as a reader.  Still, I wanted to trust this would be different.  That, alongside the mystery, the leading character would be levels above the Hollywood hype.  I got 60 pages before I bailed.  Here's the list as to why...

1.  Opening Topic of Breast Implants?

Now I get it. Dayna is an actress working in Hollywood, where her image is her livelihood. Looks often take precedence to talent. Looks put food on the table. Aesthetics and specific enhancements lead to acting jobs–to receiving gigs. Yet, I would be lying if it didn't cause me to question the author’s course, introducing a lead sporting bazooka breast implants. What it signaled to me was how Dayna was a character willing to follow instead of lead. A character who was comfortable falling right into the pressures of her Hollywood profession, instead of resisting leftward to rely on her brain/talent. I needed a confidence vibe straight out the gate. A self-acceptance and reassuring leader in control feel.

So, from the jump, I couldn't take Dayna seriously. She came across as another shallow, Hollywood sheep. Stereotypical actress fluff who was–sadly in my mind–about to play detective for a day for quirks, shits and giggles.

No, for real. Her exposition delivery on her breast implants in the opening chapter made me cringe. Nothing against it. But as a mystery lover who loves and adores having more black writers filling the genre, I felt disappointed with a realization that this book wasn't going to attempt to soar above the Stephanie Plum-level tone type flouncy silliness. And this topic–stigma or not–set its tone. No disrespect.

2.  Half-Naked Barista? Cute?

Sooooo.  Y'all thought this scene was "cute"?
To make up for her lack of acting-related gigs, Dayna enters the novel applying for a job at a cafĂ©. A cafe where the baristas are semi-nude women serving lattes and such. Now I know this is an actual, real thing. Yet, once again, I couldn’t help but flinch at the author’s course with Dayna. I kept asking myself, “couldn’t she think of anything better than this to–I suppose–humble the character? Why cheapen her to this degree?” And if the author intended to make her character despondent and relatable; it only caused me to question the character’s skills, judgment, and resourcefulness. Dayna seriously contemplated the job and dressed down to "audition" for a position. And I wasn’t feeling the objectivity of this character. It was disappointing how the author could write her in such a situation.

Call it a personal grievance, but I didn’t find the humor in it. AT ALL. I know this book keeps getting touted as a "fun, light-hearted cozy," but I couldn't entertain this. Especially with Dayna being a black woman spinning around half-naked for a job serving coffee. Of course while the male manager examines and comments on her "assets".

Hollywood setting or not, that was some bullshit to me. Especially coming from the author. Like girlllll, you are in control here. The pen is in your hand. And this is suppose to be... I don't know... light-hearted, funny, and cute to you? Dayna is suppose to be above this type of foolishness. Why are you giving away her power like this!?

3.  Backward Mystery Set-Up

Dayna and her family suffers from financial troubles. This requires her to earn money to pay for certain related expenses. So when a cash reward advertising billboard requesting information on a fatal hit-and-run she vaguely witnessed catches her attention, Dayna decides this is an instantaneous segue into collecting dough. Somehow, that’s the answer to her family's financial needs. To me it sounded like a reach–like I mean a reachhhhhhhh.

I felt some of the storytelling suffered because the author didn’t lead the story with the wreck. Or even a snippet profile of the victim. Had she opened the story with the wreck (scene and all) and later billboard “revelation,” I could buy it. But she did it backwards, in the form of a flimsy flashback. This–to me–dampened the rhythm, tone, my investment and the practicality of the character’s intent. So I was never sold on why Dayna or myself should care. As it felt like a capricious motivation to shape her as an investigator. Matter-of-fact, I would've suggested the author kill one of Dayna's best friends to mold her beginnings as private-eye.
4. Obnoxious Side Characters

Bish.  I can't...
And, ultimately, the two best friend characters finally killed the book for me by 60 pages. One friend was an ex-wife to a successful man. She blabbered and shrilled on and on about jeans and fashion. The other was an actress, with one scene finding her celebrity at a video game store during a midnight release party. And yes, signing autographs and such on her way out the door.

Anyway, just random. They were way, way too flighty and senseless to me. They were those "forced funny" type of cliche best friend characters. The kind that are super corny, instead of funny. However, in all fairness, humor doesn't always translate in a mystery. At least to me. Like, Elizabeth Peters nails humor to me. Whereas I couldn't get through the second book in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Hollywood Homicide was of the latter–in regards to its humor. This book lacked finesse and subtlety on that front.

I would have read more, but I had enough. I couldn’t imagine spending more time with those two giggling chatterboxes trying an already trying mystery. Dealing with erratic-ass Dayna conducting research on an iPad was hard enough.

I'll spare my remaining grievances–because there were a few more.  Anyway, this post is one of the few expressed unpopular opinions about this book.  I'm looking at four and five stars reviews thinking to myself "WHERE?"  Anyway, I can't sit here and lie.  Hollywood Homicide was a huge disappointment.  Now back to watching Agatha Christie's Ordeal by Innocence.

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