03 December, 2010
Review: The Francesca Cahill Novels by Brenda Joyce
Oh Francesca, how do I love you? Let me count the ways. In love with a married man? In love with his brother? Befriending lesbians? (One of whom was your fiance's lover!) Taking street waifs under your wing? Hoping your socialite brother will stop his wandering ways to settle down with that nice Irish laundress? Standing over dead bodies while fighting for women's rights? Wondering how to hide street urchins from your mother while sneaking off to college? Wandering through the wreckage of your sister's marriage? Francesca, what don't you have going on? Although you use 'sleuthing' more frequently than anyone can tolerate and have a bit of the Mary Sue about you, I always regret closing the book and leaving you behind. It's not the murders that matter, it's your wonderfully convoluted life. You make Sookie Stackhouse look like an underachiever. When you left us I had to break up with Brenda Joyce. She made a triumphant return to the past while I longed for your future.
But now you're coming back, Francesca!! Will you (wisely) marry Calder despite his decadent orgies? Does he want you for yourself or because his brother Rick can't have you - tied as Rick is to the beautiful yet tragically crippled Leigh Ann? Or is there yet another brother in the wings? Perhaps a man we haven't yet met is waiting to step out of the shadows and capture your heart. Someone will be murdered. You'll throw yourself into danger as you always do. Stopping in at a dinner party to pacify your mother, knocking your brother's opium out a window, you'll arrive at the crime scene with a sweep of your skirts and a sniff of disdain. After all who better than you, society's darling, to handle the cases the corrupt New York police cannot?
Let's just start casting the films already. Are you Anne Hathaway or Taylor Swift? Is your arch self assurance born of innate skill or naive overconfidence? I think you've already grown a fair amount from that young ingenue who looked into Rick Bragg's eyes and mistook his shallow disdain for romantic depth. I can't wait to see where you go, and I can't wait to complain about how you get there.