Irresistible Mystery Novel Features Winning Protagonist and
Lots of Juicy Action
Too Beautiful To Die
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by Glenville Lovell
Format: Hardcover, 304pp
Pub. Date: June 2003
Publisher: Putnam Publishing Group, The
Reviewed by Thumper
It had been a long while since I read a suspense/mystery novel’too long. I had a stroke of good fortune when the most recent mystery book I read was Too Beautiful To Die by Glenville Lovell. The book is, in a word, superb. Too Beautiful To Die is a fast-paced, action-packed detective story that dares to be based on the frailty of human emotions and the complexity of race in our society, Too Beautiful To Die is smart, sexy, soft in the right places, and outlined with the proper amount of violence to make for an irresistible tale. I loved every word of it.
An ex-cop who was shot during by another police officer during an undercover investigation, Blades Overstreet's life is in the dumps. He is suing the city of New York for the shooting, his wife left him, and he is an emotional wasteland. The only things Blades is missing in order to be the living lyrics of a country song are the runaway dog, the stolen pick up truck, and a twang. On a hot summer day when Blades is roasting in his apartment (his fans don't work and his air conditioner is taking a break from the heat), he gets a call from his friend Jimmy to help an actress find her father. Since Jimmy saved Blades' life once upon a time, Blades feels obligated to repay the favor. What should have been a search for a missing person turns murderous when dead bodies soon start falling all around him.
The key to any mystery/suspense novel is its leading character. I can't stress enough the importance of this essential element especially when the character is to be featured over an entire series of novels. Whether he/she is Dudley Do Right with a nasty disposition, or Hannibal Lecter with a wicked sense of humor, the protagonist above all else must be able to capture my attention and hold it in the grip of an eight-armed jealous lover for the book or series to be a success. Lovell accomplished this key quality with Blades Overstreet.
In Blades Overstreet, Lovell introduces an extremely likable character with rough edges who have a loyal heart, intelligence, a propensity for violence and the voice of a natural storyteller. Blades has just enough issues to be interesting: A crumbling marriage, career problems, and his family dynamics.
Too Beautiful To Die flowed like a ribbon of melted chocolate: smooth, rich, and rolls around the tongue like a sweet heaven. As the story progressed, it established the momentum of a loose boulder rolling down a mountain, gaining speed as it races to the bottom. Lovell infused humor by surrounding Blades with a dysfunctional family, and a cast of assorted characters that keeps Blades humble and exasperated. Lovell isn't content to simply write a standard detective novel, he brings depth to Blades' character by having him operate in the gritty, urban reality that contains racial issues, identity conflicts, and police brutality. There is a lot here for me to sink my teeth into.
Too Beautiful To Die is an astonishing work of fiction. I did not care who was behind the killings, or his motive; I was simply riding in the passenger seat transfixed, and enjoying the journey. I wanted for nothing. Smooth travel, pleasant company, Too Beautiful To Die was a trip I did not want to end.