Friday, October 23, 2020

Book Review: Hot Enough to Kill by Paula Boyd (Jolene Jackson #1)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The main characters
Cons: Condescending tone, weak mystery
The Bottom Line:
Jolene helps her mom
The tone of book does not work
Pace drags in middle

Not as Hot a Debut As I Had Hoped

Earlier this year when looking at the book I had on my Kindle app, I discovered that I had purchased both a physical and an ebook of Hot Enough to Kill over the years.  It’s rare I buy duplicate books (and honestly, I don’t know where the physical book is), so I figured it must mean I was anxious to read this book at one point.

This book introduces us to Jolene Jackson.  A native of the small town of Kickapoo, Texas, she has lived in Colorado all of her adult life and only comes back when she absolutely has to.  Like right now.  The mayor of Kickapoo has been murdered, and her mother, Lucille, has been brought in for questioning.  Jolene rushes down to try to help out.

Her mother had been dating the mayor, who was separated from his wife.  It’s obvious that Lucille is hiding something from everyone, but she claims to have been home alone.  As events unfold, Jolene finds herself reconnecting with her high school sweetheart, Jerry Don Parker, who just happens to be sheriff now.  As events make it clear that Lucille is in danger, Jolene begins to investigate.  Can she figure out what happened?

The book sounds promising, and it started out well.  Somewhere around the middle, however, the pace sagged.  The issue was that the story became a series of events, but no real investigation was going on.  I was interested in what was happening, but I didn’t feel like the book was really moving forward.

Unfortunately, most of the characters were thin.  Jolene, Jerry, and Lucille were all strong, and I liked them.  Lucille could have been over the top annoying, but she walked that fine line of being entertaining without being annoying.  It was the rest of the cast where I had the issues.  Most of them were very thin with just one of two notes to them at best.

The thin characters also contribute to another issue I had with the book.  Jolene narrates the book first person, and she has a very condescending attitude toward her hometown.  It is clear that we are supposed to be laughing at the hicks from Kickapoo.  Couple that with a stereotypical hypocritical Christian character and some needless political commentary, and I was turned off.  I am sure it was supposed to be funny, but it didn’t work for me.

The book was originally published in 1999, but I read the updated ebook version from 2012.  It kind of feels like it is stuck between the two time periods, so keep that in mind if you pick up the book.

Obviously, I wanted to enjoy Hot Enough to Kill.  But the result wasn’t nearly as good as I hoped it would be.

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