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Life's a Bitch. So am I.: Rachel Cord Confidential Investigations (Volume 1) Paperback – Large Print, March 27, 2015
The Amazon Book Review
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"Rachel Cord, P.I., is certainly one of the most memorable P.I.'s that I have ever encountered . . . . The fast pace things happen in this story often left me breathless and unable to put the book down." -- Cherie Fisher (Reader Views) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"A great detective novel with sarcastic humor and gritty realism. The mystery is solid and complex, and Conary does an excellent job of presenting several different threads...and painstakingly weaving them together, so that the resolve at the end is deliciously satisfying. The book is loaded with well defined and interesting characters, and the writing is clean enough to stay out of the way... Conary does a wonderful job describing the details of Rachel's investigations which are always my favorite part of a detective novel." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Sexual predators and gay-bashing are the main themes and Rachel Cord, P.I. is assigned to these cases. She takes her work seriously and it's getting to her. She feels responsible for certain events that take place. Events she has no control over.
What I like about Rachel is that she isn't some super hero and reacts like a lot of "real" people would when she gets the pi-- scared out of her. And that's happened more than once during an extended horrific scene a bit past midway in the book. This part of the story is really difficult so here's my warning.
I think the only reason I purchased this book (besides it's cheap price) is that is is billed as 'sarcastic humor' however I don't recall laughing much (if at all). The subjects dealt with are way too serious for much humor and certainly Rachel wasn't going through anything which would bring her chuckles.
Conary is a talented author though I'm not sure how to rate the book or whether I would purchase another from this author.
...Addendum (a day later, now that I've started reading another book by a different author and found that this next book has nothing that holds my interest...), I've discovered that in Conary's book Life's A Bitch. So Am I, even though it seems as though it's mostly about sex -- sexual preference, sexual predators, late night calls to a transvestite (which was totally weird, by the way), etc, there was something in the reading that draws one in (to the book) and maintains the interest throughout and I was finished reading it in one day.
But it is a very good thriller-mystery in the Mickey Spillane fashion. Tight prose, fast-paced action and a good storyline. It's one of the first gay PI stories I've ever read. The female PI Rachel Cord is gay. Very different but interesting with some good insights into the problem of gay bashing in our society.
It's a fast read. I finished it in three days and the author has a satisfactory conclusion that wraps up all the loose ends. His sequel Rachel Cord, PI 'Still a Bitch': A Confidential Investigations Mystery would be worth checking out.
I didn't even get past the first chapter. It's clear that the author has never been inside a police station in his life. He's never had a conversation with a cop that didn't involve signing on the bottom line, and he's never interacted with a woman.
Okay, that last part is an exaggeration. I'm sure the author has held a conversation with a woman. But the opening sequence where the protagonist is talking about her breasts FAILS. It's not snarky, it's not cynical, it's not sexy, it's not even interesting. It just shows a complete lack of understanding of women, and of breasts. The author can't even convincingly write about breasts.
That's what I got from this: complete and total ignorance about human beings in general.
A waste of time and money.
Conary does an excellent job of making a short book seem longer by following a couple cases in a pretty complex mystery. By complex I don't mean the reader has a difficult time figuring out most of the whodunit aspects, but being able to do so relatively early on in no way makes the journey any less enjoyable in following all the intertwining leads.
One thing that I really appreciated is Conary's one/two approach to revealing clues and information. At several points a key bit of information is revealed, but neither the author or Rachel (the PI) jump on it and draw red pointing arrows to it right away. Instead, the reader gets a chance to think, "aha, that's important!" and savor their cleverness in picking the tidbit out of the flow of the story. Then usually shortly after that Rachel picks up on it too. This style made the mystery a lot of fun as a reader and it also avoided that frustration with a PI ignoring something for half a book, making you think they're stupid.
Another thing that I appreciated was that Rachel wasn't taking things on solo. When she found a vital piece of information she immediately turned it over to the police. It seemed like a much more realistic representation of PI work and is a bit unusual in PI novels. Things shifted drastically in the second half though when Rachel suddenly went all "Lone Ranger" (leading to some of those "boy you are stupid" thoughts), following in the footsteps of most fictional PIs who have gone before her. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by that turn of events, but I'll get over it.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the description of Rachel's office and details about how she works cases with her table system. One of the things I've really liked about Grafton's Milhone series is all the mundane information about how Kinsey writes up contracts and organizes her work. I suppose some may find those things boring, but I love the level of detail.
Something that was never made clear, and I think it should have been based on the book title and what is printed on Rachel's business cards, is why she refers to herself as a bitch. The book title was appealing for that reason, but she never had what I consider a bitchy moment and she never even really gets that attitudinal. It's not a problem with the book or character that she doesn't, but it does leave it all totally unexplained in my mind.
I will add a caution, because it's missing in the other reviews. There is an unexpected and rather graphic rape scene in the book. I'm pretty thick-skinned and read all sorts of books and normally that type of thing doesn't get to me. And normally I wouldn't even mention it. But since I found it disturbing I figured it was worth stating so that those who are sensitive to that topic will be forewarned.
Kindle Note: There were extremely few typo/punctuation types of mistakes, and aside from there being only extra space and not actual page breaks between the chapters the formatting was good. One thing though, the use of quote marks in the book title totally messes up this book in alphabetical sorting on the Kindle. The Kindle sorts by the punctuation mark and not the first word of the title. (I've made the author aware of this and she said she'd keep it in mind for future books.)
Most recent customer reviews
Light, witty, has a pretty serious violence part, but worth the read.