Friday, March 12, 2010

Review of "How to Lose a Client" by Becky A. Bartness

Well well, finally back with another review! Let's start with the disclaimer and get right into it. This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for a review. No money was given, but I did receive a book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

From the back cover: " Kate Williams, Esq., has just started her own criminal defense law firm in Phoenix, Arizona, when Katherine Paar aka Tangerine, a new client, walks in and proposes a lucrative deal to bring Kate on as her attorney. Things get complicated and events unfold quickly when the body of Tangerine's ex-lawyer is discovered and Tangerine disappears. Kate, aided by MJ, her tattooed, pierced, and fashion-challenged paralegal and Sam, her sometimes cross-dressing investigator, along with a cast of characters straight out of a John Waters movie, try to unravel the bizarre mystery and save Tangerine's life. The action is fast and fantastically funny, and Ms. Bartness proves once again that you can laugh at death. "

Now, first off, "How to Lose a Client" is actually third in a series, and I have not read the first two. However, while there are a few references to the earlier books, I had no trouble reading "How to Lose a Client" as a stand-alone. I always think that's a good sign, when you can pick up a later book in a series, and get through it with only a minor misstep or two. Any references to the previous books were explained enough that I had little trouble understanding how they might play into characterization, or the plot.

I found plenty of similarities between this book/series, and the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. But while the Stephanie Plum series is starting to get stale (or maybe I'm lying to myself and it's been stale for a while), the Kate Williams Mysteries still have a fresh feel to them. Kate is a smart woman, and despite not having skills that may help her when these occasions keep popping up (It was even suggested to her by another character to take some self defense lessons), she has enough common sense to figure out how to deal with the issues in the best way possible. She doesn't just rely on pure luck (Unlike some characters..), which makes her seem stronger.

And the side characters - I loved every one of them. They all had depth, and I honestly believed they all had known each other for years, had developed various relationships with each other, and they added just enough humor (as well as Kate's funny moments) to make this quite an enjoyable book. Off the top of my head, I'd have to say I loved Sam, Larry, Tuwanda, and Ralph (her dog) the best. Tuwanda and Larry were great sidekicks, and Larry was fascinating to read about.

And the ending was exceptional. After finding out the culprit, I like to sit down and think about what clues there were along the way that might have helped me come to the right conclusion. I don't read many mysteries, but when I do, I hate when the ending is too much of a shock, with little to no clues for the reader to follow along and make their own hypothesis as to who the bad guy might be. But "How to Lose a Client" had just the right about of mystery and humor to keep me coming back.

There wasn't much I didn't like about this book, as I'm sure you can tell, and the only issue I had with it was one scene near the end. Whether it was the wording, or a mix up of names, I had to read it three times, and even then I wasn't totally sure what was going on. While it did pull me out of the story, it was only for a brief moment. I cared far too much about Kate's life, and wanting to know where the story was headed than to be bothered about something that small for too long.

I really enjoyed "How to Lose a Client," I loved the characters, the plot, and even the pacing. After reading a fair amount of books in recent history with no pacing at all, this book was the comfort I needed. Hectic and/or scary moments were followed by just enough of a cool down to give me, as the reader, a little break before we jumped into the next section. I'm giving "How to Lose a Client" by Becky A. Bartness a FOUR POINT FIVE out of FIVE. I'd love a chance to check out the previous books in this series. And I'm really excited I got the chance to read and review this book.

Hope you all get a chance to check out "How to Lose a Client" by Becky A. Bartness. And Happy reading!
~!~ Morning Glow