So I was up until the wee hours of the morning finishing The Maddox Files: Back to Business, and I am still collecting my thoughts. It was a crazy ride. Let's start with an intro, for those who might have missed my interview with Rhonda a few weeks ago.
Genre: I really don't know. This is one of those books that doesn't fit cleanly into any one genre. There is a bit of paranormal, a lot of romance, PI, action, Sci-fi, and a bit of intrigue.
Synopsis: Dice Maddox was once a great private investigator. As fate would have it, her partner died in a car accident. Dice ended up in a dead-end job with a cheating fiancé. She has had enough and would like to reclaim her old life or a piece of her old life. The problem is going back to work as a private investigator; she is facing many unforeseeable challenges. She wonders if she can do this kind of work again. Then Ryan Winters walks into her office; she isn’t sure if he is crazy or sane, but he needs her help. After a recent car accident, he finds himself married to a gorgeous woman he has never met before. She’s hiding something. The closer Dice looks into the case, the more she finds herself wondering whether the woman is a demon or an alien. What has she gotten herself into?
My thoughts: I love that in the world of self-publishing, we authors are allowed to write books that don't fit into any one genre, but are an exciting mixing and blending of multiple genres to create this incredible alternate world. In the past, if we had a book like this when it got to an agent, the agent would say something along the lines of "you need to take out X,Y and Z, and bump up more R so we can market this."
In every other book that is a blending of genres like this, I would be glad that we get the ability in self-publishing to be able to throw those rules out the window. But in this case, I had a hard time because this book really felt like two separate stories that should have been a sequel to a first story which is told mostly through flashback.
So what are the two very different stories? The first is almost a women's lit story of a young woman who loses her business partner/ mentor/ uncle, finds her life four years later is completely off track. She is unhappy in her life and is sort of shoved into a journey of rediscovery. This part has betrayal, an overprotective loved one, a crappy significant other, and a lot of hot romantic encounters (which I appreciate the author keeping to a PG-13 rating. If a publisher had gotten ahold of this it would have become an uncomfortable book on a woman's self-discovery of her sexual desires. Blech!)
Then there is the other really fun story that I really enjoyed. A P.I. quits after her partner dies mysteriously. When she decides it is time to get back into the game, she discovers that her partner was working a whole other line of cases which may have actually led to his death. Think Supernatural meets Dick Tracey. That was a great story that I totally wanted to get behind. It was a fun blending of Dresden Files meets X-files. It was the story I wanted to read.
Unfortunately, there was so much of that first story, which I am generally not a fan of, that if I wasn't a compulsive nut job who cannot not finish a book, then I definitely would not have finished this book. I would have quit at chapter four before I even got to know that there really was a cool element to the story. (No offense to anyone who enjoys women's lit. For some that is inspiring. Just not my cuppa tea.)
So, yeah, the story was a bit all over the place, but not in a good way. I suspect that there will be a very niche audience who will welcome such a story, but from the research I have done it will be a very small audience.
But then, before Joss Whedon came along, there was not really much of an audience for space cowboys and now, thanks to Firefly, it is a wildly popular genre in the Steampunk world.
Alright, now that we have covered the story, there are a few other issues that led me to struggle with this book. I know this is the author's debut novel (and I am going back and looking at my own debut novel and groaning because I need to do a bunch of work for these similar issues. The joy of self-publishing is that we learn and can fix our craft without getting black balled!) This book would definitely benefit from an editor. It jumps awkwardly between present and past tense (sometimes in the same sentence) commas are used with no rhyme or reason, and there are a lot of words that are misused. It drove me a little batty.
Grammatically, it was better than 50 Shades, but not as good as Hunger Games.
That all being said, would I read the next Maddox Files book? If it continues on the path of focusing on the paranormal investigation, and gives the "too many guys to choose from" theme a rest, and explores the possibility that her uncle's death was not an accident, I am totally there!
Why? Because if the author takes the route she seems to be taking, it is basically a female Harry Dresdon with a healthy dabble in aliens. How freaking cool would that be?! Yeah, I am totally enticed into the woman Dice Maddox is becoming. There were enough clues of intrigue at the end of this book to leave me definitely interested in the next book.