By Susan Isaacs.
Many years ago I read Compromising Positions. To be honest, I didn't like it. Found it boring. Wasn't terribly fond of the characters. Not really into adultery plots either. I don't want to reread it for this website, assuming I even knew where the book ended up.. It was my least favorite book of the author's. For the record, the plot of it (as I recall) was that in the 70's, Judith Singer was a bored married woman with two small children who got all excited when a murder happened in her suburban neighborhood and got all amateur sleuth about it. She also had a flaming affair with the detective on the case, Nelson Sharpe, but they broke it off for the sake of their kids. I don't know why I read the sequel when I came across it, all right? But thankfully, it's better than the first one.
Now it's 1999 or so, and Judith's kids are all grown up. She went to grad school and became a professor, so at least she has more to do with her life than before. Her boring husband Bob finally dropped dead a couple of years ago. She is quietly miserable and still pines for Nelson even 20 years later, and even when they have brief contact with each other with accidental run-ins on the street, it throws them both off a lot. But Nelson's still married, albeit to a different wife this time. Anyway, Judith is still not enjoying her own life, so she gets all excited to investigate another murder in her neighborhood.
The murder victim, Courtney Bryce Logan, is one of those perfectionistic blonde moms who seem to do everything right. She quit work to stay home with her children and started her own child-related business. Most people seem to have found her nice enough, or plastic, or boring (the phrase "There's no there there" seems appropriate to the woman), and for most of the book she's not exactly the most compelling murder victim around. But still, why would anyone want to shoot her and dump her in the pool? Judith decides to offer her services to the grieving husband, who is of course suspect #1. The grieving husband turns her away, BUT he mentioned it to his dad, a mobster known as "Fancy Phil." Fancy Phil is totally willing to take Judith up on her offer, and they have an interesting sorta-kinda-friendship while discussing the case. I couldn't help but kinda like Fancy Phil, who's got the most personality in the entire book and seems actually not too bad for a mobster. So Judith goes around interviewing everyone who knew Courtney, getting psychological profile information on her that definitely becomes relevant to the case. Even though Nelson is no longer in Homicide--he got forced out into Special Investigations, which goes after mob guys-- he gets involved in Judith's case anyway. Half the time he's warning her off about Fancy Phil, but the other half of the time he clearly seems to want back into homicide investigation. And Judith's pants. Again.
The plusses to this book:
- Fancy Phil. At least he's got a personality, unlike most folks in this book.
- The Courtney case definitely becomes more interesting than it appeared. I liked the twists in the case, and for once, I felt like an amateur sleuth was doing a darned good job of investigation.
- I still kinda think Judith and Nelson are the least charismatic//snarky characters that this author has ever written, but they seemed a bit more interesting this go-round. And I definitely felt the total pain Judith felt about having broken up with Nelson and how avoiding him for so long was quietly killing her and had been for twenty years. I did feel that pain, y'all, and I wanted to just get them back together already so she'd stop feeling it. It took a while to get there.
- I still think Judith and Nelson are the last charismatic/snarky characters the author has ever written, so once they got together, I wasn't massively feeling it. Even the sex seemed blah to me. These two just don't feel like they have sparks, alone or together, much. Sigh. I found most of the characters in this book to be pretty bland and dull, really.
- There was one moment where Judith just flat out had the Idiot Ball. You know that towards the end of the book, you've got to have a dangerous confrontation. It's a requirement. But dear lord, how dumb do you have to be when some stranger you've never heard of before calls you up out of the blue saying they want to spill all about Courtney--and you just have them come over? THINK ABOUT IT, JUDITH. Gah. The stupid, it burns.
I'll give it three and a half stars.