Monday, November 30, 2009

CBRII books 4 and 5 - Heavenly Pleasures and Forbidden Fruit by Kerry Greenwood

AKA I went back for more, and liked it.

One thing this Cannonball Read is going to make embarrasingly clear is my love for Chick Lit. Well, Detective Chick Lit, but really, that's just the normal variety with some corpses added. I know they're fairly predictable, with the plucky heroine and hunky hero, but sometimes, I just can't resist. Actually, I've just realised that four of the five books I've so far read for the CBRII have involved hunky heroes. Wow.  That's REALLY embarrassing.

Heavenly Pleasures and Forbidden Fruit are, respectively, books 2 and 5 of the Corinna Chapman series. HP was first published in 2005, FF in 2009. Why do I mention that?  Because in that time, Bush and Howard went bye bye, their legacy either the economic destruction of their nation, or the internal destruction of their party (as of today, the Australian Liberal party, who happen to be our conservative party, because we're weird like that, have elected, by one vote, their third leader in two years). It turns out that when Obama was talking about Change, it wasn't limited to American politics. 3 pages into Heavenly Pleasures, you're slapped in the face with some gloating over Iraq, and that's just the start of a steady stream of agenda-filled remarks. It's interesting, but only from a historical perspective (especially when there's references to economic jitters and insurance/bankers having trouble). Aside from the standard, perfectly acceptable grumbling about the state of the world in general, Forbidden Fruit was devoid of politics.

Hence, I whole-heartedly recommend Forbidden Fruit. It's set during Christmas, and there's a wealthy pregnant girl on the run with her poor-but-good boyfriend. There's also Freegans, and Vegans, and Gypsies and a Donkey with a thing for muffins. This is because it's a Detective Chick Lit where The Worship of Shoes is replaced by Wacky Characters (see: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, which I also enjoy, because unfortunately, it appears that my Taste may actually be in my butt).

That said, aside from the politics, Heavenly Pleasures is probably a slightly better book.  It's a little more tightly woven, a few more surprises, and I found myself much more emotionally invested in the subplots.  This time, there's a mysterious new tennant in the World's Best Apartment Block,  Insula, and he's brought trouble with him.  The kind that carries weapons and explosives.  Meanwhile, the Heavenly Pleasures of the title, a high-end chocolate shop, is also under attack.  Somebody is replacing the chocolate filling with chilli and soy sauce, and destroying the business.  The owner, Juliette Lefebvre, hires Daniel, Corinna's private detectin' boyfriend, to catch the culprit.  Oh, and Heavenly Pleasures' shopgirl has gone missing, just to add to the tension.  
The characters, with the exception of the villans, of course, are all utterly charming, and once again, Greenwood has researched the hell out of her subject matter.  There's a lot of information slotted into these books, on everything from chocolate and chess to old christmas carols and the proper care of pampered bunnies.  And they're based in Melbourne.  Which makes me happy, for reasons I can't fully explain.

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