Rating: 3.5 Stars
Age Recommendation: Adult (~16+)
Warnings: Frequent Adult Language, Implied Sexual Content (nothing explicit)
Genres: Crime, Murder Mystery, Romance
Pages: 421 (paperback edition, provided in exchange for a review)
Lou glanced at the back jacket. “Fletcher Manning. Turns out he’s a best-selling novelist. And he was so impressed by your little performance, he wants to shadow you as part of the research he’s doing on his new book.”
Cory leaned back, letting the counter support her. A novelist? He wanted to see her again.
JW Robitaille’s Romancing the Crime is essentially a fresh take on a classic murder mystery, crime-solving novel, but it also includes a romance that has a strong footing within the story. The characters brought together are done so in a way that’s very similar to the television show Castle, and thus gives their interaction a great starting point. It’s very difficult to miss that common plot between this book and the series, but the story is one with a merit of its own.
The research for this novel has clearly been done formidably, and the writing is – a good 95% of the time – quite spectacular. I did get lost a bit in the number of secondary characters that were introduced, but I understand that this book is the first in a series, and expect that these characters will be returning ones, or ones meant to help with this plot until we meet the new ones. As far as the plot goes, for the most part, everything seemed to line up and follow along with an understandable, realistic path. I struggled, though, when sometimes things seemed to go off on a tangent without explanation.
For example, Marin decides in chapter four to ask about another detective’s brother seemingly out of the blue, with no obvious relation to the action that’s been happening in the book or even in the scene. Moments like that distract me from the story because even as I read along, I’m still stuck back at the start, wondering why it was brought up.
Romancing the Crime also felt slightly problematic in regards to the way diversity was featured. I think that diversity is very important because it accurately represents the world we live in, but sometimes the characters in this story seemed to be described as a bit too long, or in a way that implies that they are somehow marked as an ‘other.’ And while that’s fair considering who Marin is, it felt a bit unnecessary and forced.
In truth, the descriptions of Gainsville, Florida – the setting of Robitaille’s story – and the detailed knowledge of detectives and how they work were the real stars of Romancing the Crime. Those who love crime stories will find it easy to dive into this one and anyone who loves a bit of local information to help solidify a story will be pleased that the author has included so much of it. That decision certainly made it easier to imagine the scene and the world in which Marin’s investigation takes place.
On the whole, the plot is one that easily engages those interested in knowing “Whodunit,” with many false leads and an ending the reader probably won’t see coming. For those that enjoy Romancing the Crime, Robitaille has written a few other novels, as well as screenplays and short stories that may need to be the next on their To-Be-Read list!