Highly readable yet uncompromisingly unlikable is the best description of Roux Morgue and its lead protagonist Mary Ryan. Mary Ryan is impossible to like, she is a whining, abrupt, arrogant, bullying malcontent who is aware of each and every one of her faults yet at 34-years-old feels the only things about her that need changing are her dating life, the color of her hair and her level of femininity.
The author goes overboard in her portrait of Mary, laying it on too thick for the reader to ever care about Mary or understand why anyone else would ever care for or about her. When someone is aware that they are a bully and as an adult makes no movement towards becoming a recognizable member of humanity rather than someone off to the side looking in scorn and judgment at all that pass by and through her life there is a problem. Mary seems to enjoy her role as bully, as if it were her calling and all the world needs her to beat and berate them into doing it her way. The author should spend more time fixing Mary’s overwhelming flaws and less time on rectifying her two years of celibacy.
There has been no growth between the first book in the series and the second, in fact, I believe Mary actually became worse, regressing with each page. Every action by another that she sees as negative or weak she herself is guilty of repeatedly. Where the author fails at primary characterization she succeeds in pacing, plot and secondary characters. I can’t recommend Mary but I do recommend the plot.
The plot is fast paced, interesting and exciting, so if plot is more important to you than character then this book will be everything you need. The plot is set in the food world and centers around money laundering, the mob, jealousy and of course, murder. I pieced together part of the solution but never quite had a grasp on the enormity. I kept reading for the answers wishing all along that someone would shove Mary in a closet for length of the book and maybe the next. The other negative, like the first book, were the constant stereotypical attributes assigned so easily to Italians and gay men.
Being tough doesn’t mean being an unbearable witch, sadly with this second installment the author seems to believe they are synonymous. I don’t know that I will read the third book in the series, mostly because I’m convinced that the author finds her character gusty and tough rather than unbearable and annoying. The plot would be a solid four but the lead characterization is a zero, the average of the two is my final rating.