Crystal Starr Light's Reviews > Red Hot Lies

Red Hot Lies by Laura Caldwell
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Apr 09, 2011

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bookshelves: mystery, amazon-vine
Read in December, 2009

Another Red-Hot lawyer in a sticky situation

NOTE: I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program

Izzy McNeil is a red-hot lawyer with an important red-hot client, media guru, Forester, and is about to marry red-hot Sam Hollings, who works on Forester's finances. But things take a turn for the worse when Forester suddenly dies, Sam goes missing, AND 30 million in Panama shares goes missing from Forester's safe, implicating Sam. Can Izzy find Forester's murderer? Where did Sam go? And did he take the 30 million dollars worth of shares?

I Liked:
The story opens up very interesting, and pretty gripping. It dies off (see below), but, fortunately, resumes for the latter half of the book. Particularly after the 200 page mark, I found the story going much quicker, flipping pages, urgent to find out what happens next, what the heck happened to Sam and Forester (and getting a few answers too, instead of just more questions).
Credit must be given to Laura Caldwell, as she writes in a very clear, nice manner. She is definitely a good writer, able to create her scenes well. She sets up a very believable atmosphere and puts her characters right in. The scene I especially enjoyed was the one with Mayburn and Izzy sneaking into Forester's mansion. I was reading this part at night, and it spooked me, when Izzy spotted the flicker of light. Very good writing indeed!
My favorite character was, oddly enough, Q. Somehow, I just clicked with him. I liked how he (for the most part) bucked the stereotypical gay guy. I just felt for him, as he lost his boyfriend, his job, his purpose in life, and as he found a new partner.
Another character I didn't mind was Mayburn. The grizzled guy does his job without going too gah-gah over Izzy. Yeah, it's a little hard to believe he would really allow her to help him with his job, but at least the author attempted to make it believable why Izzy would be solving this crime.
And I know this is incredibly petty, but I positively adored the cover art. The rich red, pure white, the broken rose...absolutely stunning! And what drew me to the book in the first place!

I Didn't Like:
In my typical fashion, I'll number them to keep myself from going overboard or repeating myself.
1.Izzy McNeil. Honestly, I couldn't stand her. She is a red-head (what IS it with red-headed lawyers, anyway? Lisa Scottoline had one in Courting Trouble...is it a trend or something?), hot, sexy, young, talented, well-to-do, can learn how to PI in a single bound (and even go on to brag how easy it is to listen to two or even three or four conversations all at the same time), who dresses scantily and wonders why someone is glaring at her you know what's...shall we go on? If she has any flaws whatsoever it's either that she never wears a helmet when riding her Vespa or that she spends way too much time remembering things when she should be investigating. Seriously. The only people in the book who hate her are the Big BadsTM (namely her arrogant coworker, Tanner, whom she feels she can tromp without any repercussions any day). Forester loves her, Shane loves her, Q loves her, Maggie loves her, Sam loves her, Grady loves her, Mayburn loves her...I can understand that she has friends, a fiancee, and coworkers she gets along with, but this is just plain outlandish! She intense feelings for Forester are strange for a lawyer-client relationship, and the "adoptive father" angle is above and beyond weird. And then, she has to take these strange tangents, remembering when Bunny gave her deodorant, when Sam proposed to her...I kept wanting to yell at her, "Investigate already!" The last thing that really bugged me is when she is about to lose her biggest client, she complains a lot about going back to being a mere associate, acting as if she is getting fired. I understand it's gotta be hard to be "demoted", but girlfriend, you have a job, and a well-paying one at that. Don't complain that you aren't top dog, highest earning lawyer at Baltimore & Brown and are only making 80k a year. These were big reasons I could never really "root" for Izzy.
2.Forester Pickett. He started out fairly interesting, but I can only take so much of the "He loves everyone" motif. Being generous with benefits packages for his employees. Making friends within one day of meeting Izzy and then being a pseudo-dad figure (enough that Izzy goes to the hospital after he dies--what lawyer, who isn't working on the estate, does that?). Coupling up Izzy and Sam. Befriending Q AND his partner, Max. At least, Caldwell does give him some "faults" towards the end, the one being his affair with Victoria, but even with this flaw and the knowledge that people tend to over-inflate the goodness of someone at his/her death, I still had trouble stomaching it.
3.Slow pacing. S.L.O.W. A.G.O.N.I.Z.I.N.G. P.A.C.I.N.G. The story opens good enough (there has to be some backstory, some setting the stage, etc.). And then for the next 100+ pages in wades in little unimportant backstories, introducing all these meaningless characters (Izzy's wedding coordinator, her dress maker, her mom, Bunny, Maggie, her second cousin's step-sister's ex-boyfriend's pet poodle...). I don't really care about them, I want to get to the exciting part, the part where Izzy gets off her duff and starts figuring out where the heck Sam went. The book is marketed as a thriller, after all. Thank God the latter half is not that way!
4.Shift in person. When it's Izzy, the author writes in first person past. When it is Forester, Mayburn or Sam, she switches to third person past. And then the last chapter is written in first person present. I think it is rather jarring and really doesn't help the story out more (though I can see why she tried to use this method).
5.Conclusion. The reason Sam fled with the shares is stupid and made me not want to finish it. His reason is practically spelled out in the book, early on, with a Sharpie. And then the real bad guy, the one who killed Forester, is so stereotypical that I wanted to slam my head into a wall.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
F-bombs abound, along with lesser words, like b****, he**, and da**. Pretty standard for this type of novel.
During the slower parts, Izzy recalls numerous sexual encounters with her fiancé, Sam. Victoria and Forester have an affair, as does another person.
Forester dies, but it is from a heart attack, so no nasty bloody bodies to pour over. One person jump in front of a train to commit suicide. That is pretty much it, other than creepy guys staring at Izzy from a distance.

Overall:
I can't help review this without giving a shoutout to Lisa Scottoline's Courting Trouble. Both were about sexy, saucy, somewhat dippy, red-head lawyers who got messed up in some yucky business. Scottoline's red-head had more humor, but Caldwell's red-head seemed more grounded, a better lawyer, more professional. But both suffer from a few similar faults: über sexy (as in the hot almost "Lady of the Night" way) female leads, whom everyone gushes over and adores, and a lagging plot at one point or another betwixt their pages.
Caldwell writes very well, that much is certain. And once Izzy starts actually investigating Sam's disappearance, the plot moves quickly, flows with ease. But ultimately, I have to rate this 3 stars and say I am not curious to read the next entry in this trilogy.
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