Monday, 29 March 2010

CBR 40: "Don't Look Down" by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Publisher: St Martin's Paperbacks
Page count: 384 pages
Date begun: March 28th, 2010
Date finished: March 29th, 2010

Lucy Armstrong is regretting letting her sleazeball of an ex-husband talk her into flying to Savannah to finish the last four days of filming some movie he's stunt coordinator on. She wanted to see her sister and five-year-old niece, but so far her sister Daisy seems worn-down and strung-out, and her niece Pepper is manically pretending that nothing is wrong with the grown-ups around her. The movie set is a mess, the previous director died, most of the crew have quit, the stunts Lucy is supposed to film don't seem to fit into the rest of the narrative at all, her ex seems to think this a good time to get back in her good graces, and the star has hired some ex-Green Beret, who no one else wants on set, to be his stuntman.

Captain J.T. Wilder thought being a stunt-man and a military consultant for a clumsy movie star would be easy money, after all, there's only four days of shooting left on set. Instead, he is recruited by the C.I.A to spy on the movie set, as the movie is apparently funded by an ex-I.R.A terrorist, who wants to launder money through it. Bryce, the comedian who wants to turn action star, seems to idolize him and wants to learn as much as he can. The stunt coordinator obviously hates his guts, the female star wants to get in his pants, the director's niece keeps ending up in life-threatening situations, and the director herself, while stressed and bossy, looks rather amazing in a Wonder Woman outfit.

Jennifer Crusie is the author of several best-selling contemporary romance novels. Bob Mayer has written a number of action-adventure, and sci-fi novels under his own and various pen-names. The two met during a writers' conference and became friends. This is the first of their collaborative novels (they've written two more - Agnes and the Hitman and Wild Ride), and it is, very fittingly, a mix between action-adventure and romance. According to an interview with the authors, most of the book was written via e-mail, where Crusie wrote Lucy Armstrong's scenes, and Mayer wrote J.T. Wilder's, then they cleaned up the manuscript together. Crusie also imagined Lucy Lawless as a model for Lucy Armstrong (which I did not know when I read the book, but which fits wonderfully, especially with all the Wonder Woman comparisons), while Mayer saw Wilder pretty much like Kurt Russell from Soldier.

The book starts very abruptly, and I would possibly have liked to spend a bit more time getting to know J.T. I definitely would have liked to know what his actual name was. The book is a lot more action-packed than Crusie's contemporary romances, and this is not a problem. My niggles with the book is more with the lack of characterization with some of the characters, as mentioned, the hero himself is fairly loosely sketched out. The pair's second collaboration, Agnes and the Hitman was both funnier and more satisfying, so I will be giving Wild Ride a chance. No writer (and certainly no two writers) write perfect books every time.

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