Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Lowcountry Bordello: A Liz Talbot Mystery #4

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Lowcountry Bordello: A Liz Talbot Mystery #4

Article excerpt

Susan M. Boyer. Lowcountry Bordello: A Liz Talbot Mystery #4. New York: Henery Press, November 2015. 268pp. 8.5X5.5". Paperback. ISBN: 978-1-943390-17-5. $15.95.

This is a popular bestselling mystery series about Liz Talbot, a private investigator. In this particular book, Liz's friend Olivia believes she saw a dead body in the parlor of a wealthy Charleston, South Carolina bordello that she co-owns. Olivia asks Liz to investigate the case to avoid embarrassment or imprisonment. In parallel, Liz is preparing for her wedding, with Olivia as one of her bridesmaids. The first book in this series won the 2012 Agatha Award for Best first Novel. The third mystery in the series was a 2015 SIBA Okra Pick.

Henery Press advertises their line of titles as mysteries with a "splash of chick lit." My latest genre criticism book, Gender Bias in Mystery and Romance Publishing, explained what this term means. While most mysteries written by men are linguistically denser and more structurally complex than romance novels, these "chick lit" mysteries, primarily written by female authors like Boyer, are linguistically lighter and have disjointed plots and little complex description or realistic detecting in them. One way to spot this genre is if you glance through the pages and find a line that only says:

"Yes ma'am." (88)

And here is another clue on the same page (this is the whole paragraph): "Seth changed position on the sofa. He studied the ceiling, shook his head." Across this whole page and almost all the others, the majority of the space is awarded to casual chats between characters, who talk about socializing, "pizza" (89), "freezing" (136), "money" (176), "steak" (190), but really who talk about nothing to fill the pages until the end when there is a flimsy resolution to the "mystery," which is supposed to justify the label. …

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