Another okay entry in the Jocelyn O’Roarke Mysteries. At six books, this isn’t a long series as cozies go, but I feel like Dentinger was already out of ideas at this point. Several key plot points are super easy to spot early on, murderer and motive included, and the only plus is that Jack the Aggressively Heterosexual Hairdresser is absent. There are a lot of deliberate callbacks to book three as Josh and Phil try to confront the hows and whys of their relationship going pear-shaped, and that I can understand and accept. But there are also some unintentional parallels and re-used elements that I’m not impressed by. I guess there are only so many ways you can spin the whole murder-in-the-theater-community shtick, but this is the second time the MacGuffin has been in the deceased’s makeup case, and it's super obvious that’s where Dentinger's going as soon as the case shows up.
And while it’s kind of heartening to know Dentinger was out there in the mid-90s writing a heroine who’d had an abortion, I can’t help feeling it was sloppily done in a very ham-fisted way. I can’t remember Josh’s pro-choice stance ever coming up before (doesn’t mean it didn’t come up, mind you, what with my memory being so closely related to Swiss cheese), so when she’s suddenly flying to Washington DC for the March for Women’s Lives, I knew it was time to kiss nuance goodbye.
There’s one book left in the series, which I’ll be reading just to see how things shake out between Josh and Phil. If this book is any indication, the mystery isn’t going to be particularly mystifying. I just hope there are fewer typos, because ye gods! If anyone needs some extra commas, this book has got them in the weirdest places.
(Read for Halloween Bingo Amateur Sleuth Square)