Monday, December 19, 2011

Review of Totally Buzzed

Totally Buzzed is a lively murder mystery that's full of humor and potential.

A body turns up in the crawl space underneath a Wisconsin farmhouse, and the vic turns out to be a local woman named Carole Graff. Who killed the poor woman, and why? Luckily, retired investigator Buzz Miller takes on the case. She's smart but a little crazy, just like the friends and family who get mixed up in the case.

The story has all the elements of an intriguing mystery and contains plenty of interesting detail about forensics. There is no problem with the plot.

The question that comes to mind, though, is this: Is Totally Buzzed a murder mystery that happens to be funny, or is it a comedy that happens to include a murder? At times it's hard to tell as the story pauses for a joke or for some totally unhinged silliness that may or may not advance the plot. Buzz, who is fifty-something, has a sister Margaret, whom she regularly calls "Maggot." That's the talk of a twelve-year-old, and much of the dialog is laced with mild profanity. That is fine for establishing a character trait or for showing how a person talks in certain situations, but it's greatly overdone here. And for the family dog to pass gas once might be cute--and is probably enough. Humor can be tough, because not everyone laughs at the same things. As a general rule, though, not many people laugh at the same clever line or funny event twice.

Also there are lots of cliches and some repetition, for example "Dead bodies piss me off," followed later by "As I said, dead bodies piss me off."

This looks like a good first draft. Fix some typos and get rid of most cliches. Give the reader an occasional rest from the nonstop daffiness, and try to incorporate more of the humor into the story itself, to keep things moving. Cut the repetition. There's no need to call the same person a "rat-bastard" three times.

The crime detail is good, and the story as a whole can be fun after it gets a little TLC.

4 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You pulled no punches with your review!

Bob Sanchez said...

I feel a duty to be honest and constructive to both the reader and the author. No one is well-served by glowing reviews of books that could be better.

Morgan Mandel said...

Since this book was not self-published, I'd say the publisher's editor shares some of the blame for not pointing out such problems to the author. That's what editors are for.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Stephen Tremp said...

Cliches just seem to creep into a MS. My editor catches them even when I don't. Every writer needs an editor if they want to publish a book. No way I would go it alone.