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A Presumed Romance
Presumed Guilty - Tess Gerritsen
Member Name: QueenElf
Presumed Guilty - Tess Gerritsen
Advantages: It's Tess Gerritson
Disadvantages: It's an early book.
I read a review in this book recently and said I'd have to try it, despite the fact I'm not a great reader of romantic thrillers. Tess Gerritsen is also one of my favoured thriller writers and I didn't want to spoil that image. This book is one of a number that the author first wrote under the genre of romantic thrillers and re-released by Mira books. It was originally published in 1993 and unfortunately it is a bit dated. Still, the cover looked good and I found it in my library so I borrowed it and proceeded to read it.
Miranda Wood has been having an affair with her boss, Richard Tremain, but fed up with the deceit she breaks it off. When Richard tries to force a reconciliation she does exactly what women in these books do, she goes for a long walk on the beach leaving her house empty. On her return she finds the door open and a body in her bed, someone has stabbed Richard to death. Naturally she becomes the main suspect and is quickly taken into custody. The family is one of the Island's leading old families (the book is based on an island in Maine), and naturally the people want to see justice done, but Miranda knows her innocence will be hard to prove. After all, she is really an interloper, not of the right social class. When she is bailed out by an unknown benefactor she looks even guiltier and soon brushes up against Richard's good-looking brother, Chase, who wants to believe her guilty despite a growing attraction to her.
The rest of the book is spent trying to stop Miranda and Chase falling in love, which is nonsense, of course they will. There is something suspicious about the family itself and Richard (an editor) had been working on a very incriminating story that he suddenly dropped. Throw in a company who wants to develop some prime land and a few more of Richard's past conquests and there is just enough plot to make the book readable, though a bit contrived in places. Of course I could be biased, Romantic fiction is a genre I have grown out of especially with such characters that have 'Boy meets girl' written on their foreheads.
Gerritsen makes a good effort at writing decent characters but they are all just a little bit larger than life. Miranda is the innocent woman who couldn't help falling in love with her boss and then trying hard not to fall for her brother. Chase is suitably different and has his own secrets. The wife, Evelyn, is probably having an affair herself and looks an ideal suspect, as does every one of Richard's conquests, of which there are several in the same office. There is a welcome break with tradition in the form of an elderly woman who snoops around (a bit of a Miss Marples) but could also be a suspect; after all, her cottage is next to Richard's own isolated property. Other than this the characters are fairly predictable and only the person who performed the dirty deed is a bit of a surprise.
I wanted to enjoy this and I do realize I sound a bit harsh, after all, the author admits she developed a liking for romantic suspense while working as a junior doctor. I'm sure she got some much-needed relaxation in the form of light reading. This is one of eight novels in the genre and sows the seeds of the writer she turns out to become, a first-rate author of murder/mystery. In between the basic plot lies some nice writing with an early talent for description and dialogue. I just couldn't see past some manifestly obvious characters and situations. The 'found body' plot is not a new one and the lack of alibi is over-used. I got fed up of the two would-be lovers thinking the same thoughts, ' I mustn't fall for him/her' or 'I can't let myself trust him/her so soon.'
Eventually I allowed myself to look past that otherwise I wouldn't have finished reading it, which I achieved in two days through light reading. I did suspect the culprit but didn't guess the identity until the last part of the book, so full marks for that. From my own experience I know how hard it is to write something original. I haven't written a story for months now and have to discard a lot because it's an idea I've picked up from a book.
So overall I give this three stars since it's readable if you have nothing else on the go or you like the genre. A new reader would doubtless be enchanted, I just felt luke-warm and kept thinking about just how good this author can be.
My copy is a library one. The paperback can be bought for £3.81 new at Amazon with the Kindle version similar in price. There is a very good offer on all eight of the Mira books at £20, maybe a nice gift for a fan.
As always, thanks for reading.
İLisa Fuller 2011.
Summary: A light read-not for serious fans.