You know, reading what I want was fun and all, but it led to some kind of boring posts. I missed being able to trash bad novels, especially novels lazy enough to employ J. Peterman catalog-esque descriptions. So imagine my delight when I discovered that J.D. Robb’s mediocre Celebrity in Death does just that!
Some outstanding examples:
With frustration and some regret, she studied murder. It lay in the quiet room on a sofa the color of good merlot, with heart blood staining a pale gray shirt beneath the silver bolt of a scalpel. Her eyes, flat and grim, tracked the body, the room, the tray of artfully arranged fruit and cheese on the low table. “In close again.” Her voice, like her eyes, was all cop as she straightened her long, lean frame.
When this is the opening of a crime novel, you know you’re in for some oustanding bullshit down the line.
Eve judged [Havertoe] about twenty years his dead spouse’s junior. His smooth, handsome face carried a pale gold tan that showed off well against the luxurious sweep of his caramel-colored hair.
I love hair-food descriptions, especially when they’re used to convey a color that does not exist naturally. “Caramel colored hair” would be the color of a botched bleach job, and thus probably not that luxurious.
“There you are,” he said again with that whisper of Ireland in his voice.
I’d like to imagine that means his breath smells faintly of moss and whiskey.
“The little black dress is classic for a reason, but often expected — especially in New York. So you’ll go with color, rich color in a soft sheen. It’s feminine without fuss, sexy without trying to be.”
— he presumably said with a whiff of Wales upon his lips.
I love this weird fantasy of the impossibly rich foreign husband who knows a lot about fashion and yet doesn’t read as gay. Men get so much grief for their unrealistic expectations of women, but we so rarely focus on completely out-of-hand expectations presented by terrible dime store novels by and for women.
“But even if it was an accident, we’ve got a corpse that looks uncomfortably like one of our investigators, a houseful of Hollywood — along with a reporter — and a media machine that’s going to eat it like gooey chocolate.”
I cannot stress this enough — do not write on an empty stomach because literal candy-coated metaphors are always retarded.
Equally retarded? Candy-coated racial descriptors:
The man who completed the board stood tall in a snappy smoke-gray suit. His glossy black hair curled to the nape of his neck. Cufflinks glinted silver at his cuffs. He turned, a stranger to her with a striking face highlighting his mixed-race heritage with mocha cream skin, long dark eyes tipped at the corners and heavily lashed. When he smiled, his mouth bowed and showed a hint of dimple at the left corner.
“Luitenant Dallas.” His voice was the same as his skin, rich and creamy.
I can’t be sure, but is he… blasian? Either way, his skin sounds delicious.
There are also some fantastic CSI-worthy one-liners:
“Vic is confirmed as Cecil Silcock, age fifty-six, of this address. Married to Paul Havertoe, four years. He’s the owner/operator of Good Times — party planning company.” “No more good times for him.”
And last, but not least, hilarious typos:
The girlfriend picked up the pipe and whaled on the ex. She says she was trying to stop him from killing current — too late for that, but it holds up pretty well. Maybe she wailed harder and louder than might be strictly on the line, but current’s lying there dead or dying.