Thursday, March 5, 2009

Corpse Pose by Diana Killian

I will read almost anything. I like a good light mystery to read when sitting at gymnastics with the boys. It's a great way to pass the time and be entertained. I generally am not that conscious of writing style. But occasionally I pick up a book for which the writing style is so incongruent and bad that it is hard not to notice. Corpse Pose falls into that category. The writing is SO bad I am amazed that anyone actually published the book. The best way to describe this book is to let it speak for itself. The following quote is a description of the small town that the main character A.J. is entering after she discovers that her beloved aunt has been murdered:

...On the outskirts of the town was a small cemetery known as the Hessian Graveyard, although it wasn't old enough to inter any fallen Hessians. It was one of those fascinating places with ornate headstones and morbid statuary of weeping cherubs and little children petting small animals. Gus Eriksson, Aunt Di's naturalist photographer lover, was buried there somewhere beneath the blanket of red and yellow autumn leaves. And now perhaps Aunt Di herself would rest there. Had Aunt Di left any final instructions about her funeral arrangements? A. J. had no idea.

Really? All in one paragraph? And what's with the Hessians? That has less than nothing to do with the plot. This is the only mention of the graveyard so why the inclusion of the statuary - descriptive though it may be?

Any my favorite description in a cozy mystery/chick lit/bad romance kind of way:

"Ma'am." His breath smoked in the chill air. He touched the brim of his hat. "You've had some trouble?"
His eyes were green - startlingly green - in his tanned face. He was handsome in a rugged Marlboro Man kind of way. Handsome in a way A. J. didn't like. She didn't like big, buff, overpoweringly masculine men. She liked clever, sophistocated, sensitive men. Or course, she preferred clever, sophisticated, sensitive heterosexual men, but apparently one couldn't have everything.

Your brain spinning in circles yet? Don't get me wrong, I would love to have someone publish my bad cozy mystery. And I guarantee the writing is not significantly better; Hemmingway I'm not. But I am starting to feel like if you include "tips" and "recipes" at the end of your book it is an automatic entre to publishing. Yes, that's right, the last few pages include information about how to perform the Corpse Pose in yoga and a recipe for basic stir fry.

Oh, the plot of the book? Not horrible really. Not any worse than most light cozy mysteries written these days. But someone needed to edit more carefully and not just assume the book would sell because it is about yoga - oh wait, technically it is "A Mantra for Murder Mystery" - a popular topic currently.

Don't waste your time. Maybe Diana Killian's future books will be stunning award winners. But before that can happen someone needs to enroll her in a writing class with a very strict professor who doesn't allow cheesy overdone descriptions.

2 comments:

Dani said...

If his face had been "tawny" instead of tanned you would have had the romance BINGO! I have read these books and thought the same thing. Just from corresponding with you over the years, I can predict your book will be in a entirely different league. Recipes, Knitting, and title with Bones and Blood seem to be hot, hot, hot with mysteries at my library.

A Gwen Nelson said...

As yes, it could have done with a "tawny." I also had someone mention in another venue that no yoga instructors would act like the characters in the book.
My book is NOT in a different league. It has a fair amount of light and cheesy phrases but I was going for hot, hot hot. ;-)