From a writer’s point of view, the sheer readability and the Voice of the author through the cocky protagonist, Janie Jenkins, is a winner and is enviable.
That the secondary characters, except for one exception, have not the depth is not only inevitable, but almost immaterial, except as a base for the criticism of perfectionists. And, in truth, they have a lot to pick holes in.
For readers, this tale of a convicted murderer trying to find out the truth behind the death of her mother (that exception) is either a hit or a dismal miss, as witness displays from reviewers of one star or four out of five with not much in between. The role of Janie as teenage spoilt socialite, convicted murderer, then detective, is a difficult one to play, but all the more convincing due to her obvious imperfections. She is a quick learner with a cutting, not always kind, wit. She is a stubborn, tough survivor, fairly adept at protecting her vulnerable core, and uses anyone’s weaknesses to her advantage. Blunt, quick, bright and decisive, she often acts before her decisions have completely gelled, which keep her, as well as her adversaries and her allies, on the hop.
Her most faithful ally, the one mostly wrong-footed after he has gotten her out of prison on a technicality after a ten-year fight, is her lawyer. And what mostly sustains her throughout is her hatred of her dead mother. Janie seems to hardly regret that her mother is dead, but the most bothersome thing is that she is not entirely sure if she in fact did, or did not, stab her to death. No wonder mum and kid didn’t get on; they are very much alike.
Clumsily dropping markers behind her as she goes, she follows the only clue she has and heads for a small country ex-goldrush town, where she…
Sure, there are red herrings that appear to be a real threat, and characters that surface and never really blossom, which technically must be construed as weak points, but the sheer fun of the story kept me reading ’til late and ensured my tick in the four-star box.