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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

Honestly Dearest, You're Dead - Jack Fredrickson Rating: 3* of five The Book Report: The book description says:“A Safe Place for Dying, the first in Jack Fredrickson’s highly acclaimed Dek Elstrom mystery series, was nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Novel. Now, Chicago P.I. Dek Elstrom is back in an electrifying new mystery.A lawyer calls Dek with a fast, seven-hundred dollar proposition. A dead client named Dek to execute her will. No matter that Dek didn’t know the woman. No matter, too, that the woman’s estate was only worth a few hundred. Happens all the time, the lawyer said.To Dek Elstrom, broke and huddling in a cold stone turret in the middle of February, the sound of seven hundred falling down his chimney is louder than his voice of reason. He agrees, heads up to a hamlet ten miles north of nowhere. But instead of finding an easy-to-close estate, he finds blood and the markers of a shattered life. And something worse: links to the darkest part of his own past. He races to chase down leads to the killer, and his own ghost…before the dead woman is killed again.”My Review: I began with laughs, continued with chuckles, snickers, and smirks, then trailed off into arched eyebrows, muttered instructions, exasperated ejaculations, and ended in irked silence.That is NOT the trajectory an author or a reader wants. This reader planned a vituperative dissection of the failings of the book as he went along his ever-less-merry way, honing a few choice witticisms to a rusty, blunt jaggedness.Why? Why was I, the reader most tolerant and understanding, the beau ideal of sweet-temperedness and kindly generosity...stop making those horrible sounds, people will think you're choking...suddenly transformed into a whole nestful of hornets in a really bad mood? Because, dammit, I was HAD. Things were set up in the first pages of the mystery that weren't delivered on, and things ANY IDIOT not even a P.I., with more than a week's work experience anyway, would think to ask went unasked, and then, please dear goddesses let me type this without screaming in fury again, THEN I will have you know, the writer uses FLIPPIN' FLASHBACKS to tell us the sad sad tale of Longago, and holy maloley does that bring this shitwagon to a sloshing, urpsome halt in its mysterious progress.Leave aside that I knew who the killer was around p5. I expect that. I been treadin' this footpath longer than mosta y'all been alive. A mysterian who can surprise or, even better, confound me gets five stars and whole freakin' operas of praise. So no, I don't expect to need to work too hard. I don't read mysteries for the puzzle-solving pleasure, but for the orderliness, the justice that is done, and the way the story is told.But COME ON!!! This sleuth, Dek Elstrom, is given a build-up as a wildly successful investigator, and he fails to ask ANY BACKGROUND QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS CONTACTS?! Oh. Please. I don't care that he's given a fee up front (which, later, becomes another sticking point and a large logical lapse). Any, and I mean any, investigator would look at his sources pretty carefully.In the normal course of events, then, this review would be a flame job out of literary, well, failure to launch shall we euphemize. It isn't, well not too much of one, for one reason and one reason only: Dek says, when served hot tea in a daisy-patterned cup, is asked, “How does your tea taste?” (There's a reason for that specific locution, but it's a little spoilery, so go with me here.) “Like a funeral home smells,” replies Dek.Yes. Exactly. One entire star restored for putting your finger on the nub of something I've wanted to find words for for a long time.Would I recommend the series, of which this is volume 2, with a third volume (Hunting Sweetie Rose)out this year? Not so much. The writing, apart from the genius moment above, is amusing, and consistently easy on the eyes; the plot is for poo; the net effect is ~meh~ minus, but some days that's okay. It's not a flee flee for your lives dear goddesses what are you still doing here run away kind of a book. It's not a sit here right here dammit and read this and love it kind of a book. It's just a barely adequate midlist means of wiling away a few hours. And as I've said, that can be enough for anyone some days.I guess today was one of mine.