As I mentioned the other day, I have found myself reading through all of Dee Henderson’s standalone novels, most of which are not actually standalone novels, as they all interconnect and have repeating characters. This really starts with Full Disclosure, which introduces Paul Falcon and Ann Silver (who becomes Ann Falcon). Paul and Ann show up in basically all the rest of Henderson’s books, which is a bit unfortunate, as I found Ann to be one of the most irritating characters I’ve read about in quite some time.
Our story starts with Paul, who works for the FBI in Chicago. He’s a basically likable guy, and he’s hanging out one day when this woman shows up in his office and tells him a little story about a car wreck that took place in her district. Turns out that this guy is the key to solving a very old case of Paul’s – a female assassin, who murdered multiple people a while back but has been retired for some years. Paul is immediately intrigued by Ann, so instead of this being a really interesting book about solving this cold case, it turns into one big long yawnfest with Ann at the center.
The problem is, Ann is perfect. Actually, I’ll just quote my own notes from my little notebook where I vent my initial feelings on books: “So, so boring. Ann is perfect. Perfect and BORING. Paul loves Ann, so let’s have pages of Paul thinking about how perfect Ann is. Let’s ask all Ann’s friends. Guess what! They say she’s perfect!”
Then, in a completely bizarre twist, we find out not just that Ann is an author (on top of being a pilot, a major homicide detective for the midwest, basically a genius, a county sheriff, a close friend to a former vice-president, a chess master, and an artist!), but that the books she wrote are Dee Henderson’s O’Malley books. This made this one of the strangest and most awkward books ever. Is Henderson writing herself into the books? Is she basing Ann Silver on her own character? Well, that’s kind of awkward considering Ann is FREAKING PERFECT. Now we get all these people praising Ann’s books and what an awesome writer she is and how her books have changed their lives… so basically Henderson telling us what a great writer she is?! Seriously, it was SO WEIRD and I legit felt embarrassed for Henderson when I was reading it.
I skimmed large portions of this book and only finished it because I knew that Paul and Ann show up in several other books, so I wanted to understand their story. There is this whole other story involving this former vice-president (who of course loves Ann because she is PERFECT) that was just A+ bizarre-o and made no sense, that just added to the whole weird-dream vibe of this book. It was like Henderson was on drugs while she was writing this.
The thing is, I didn’t think Ann was perfect. I thought she was annoying, selfish, and rude. She expects Paul to make like a zillion changes to his life and dreams to accommodate her and all her issues, and she compromises NOTHING. The most annoying one was the way that she used the fact that she’s an “introvert” (who knows everyone and has a million super close friends who are all REALLY important people who all think Ann is PERFECT) as this big excuse for needing to spend oodles of time all by herself, so basically Paul creates an entire miniapartment in his house so Ann can have her own retreat for ONE WEEK A MONTH to spend time alone. Must be nice to be independently wealthy so you can just disappear for days on end! And as an aside… if you can’t even handle a full month hanging out with someone, why in the heck are you marrying him!?
But what really got me was her stance on never having children EVER and her only reason was because she’s such an introvert that she can’t handle kids. It was never an actual conversation with Paul, it was an ultimatum. If you want to marry me, no kids. Period. Despite the fact that at the beginning of the book the whole vibe of Paul is wanting to get married so he can start a family and carry on his family heritage, etc. I’m not saying that Ann should have caved and agreed to have children, it just felt incredibly one-sided that it wasn’t even a conversation. Ever.
There were a lot of little things about this book that annoyed me, too, like the fact that Ann has known the former VP for ages, yet always calls him “sir,” or the way that Paul went around asking all Ann’s friends all about her before starting to date her. The story didn’t hang together and felt like mere background for the praise-fest for Ann. UGH.
And the Skyping?! Like why the heck are Paul and Ann even video chatting with each other when THEY AREN’T ACTUALLY TALKING. Pages were spent, on MULTIPLE OCCASIONS where it’s things like Ann watching Paul eat supper or Paul watching Ann sleep (creepy much??!).
Honestly, if it wasn’t because I had agreed to review the ARC of Henderson’s later book (which looked intriguing – and actually was really good; I’ll review it one of these days), I would have never picked up another of Henderson’s books again because this one was so freaking BORING. As it was, I skimmed through and survived by making lots of sarcastic notes. 1/5 and not even kind of recommended, which is sad, because I have found so many of Henderson’s books to be really good reads.