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Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Unzipped' Chrissy McMullen #1 by Lois GREIMAN

Chrissy McMullen is a psychologist working in la la Land – L.A. She loves her job, even if she doesn’t always heed the advice she passes on to her clients (particularly when it comes to her love life). But Chrissy isn’t prepared when the celebrity footballer she’s seeing for an impotency problem tries to rape her. She is doubly shocked when the ex-footballer star Andrew "Bomber" Bomstad whips out proof-positive that he doesn’t have an impotency problem and then promptly falls dead at Chrissy’s feet. And she certainly isn’t primed to be a prime-suspect in the Bomber’s murder investigation.

Chrissy didn’t think there was much left that could shock her, but when sexy L.A. homicide detective Jack Rivera sets Chrissy in his cross-hairs she can’t help but be dumb-struck by her dumb luck.

‘Chrissy McMullen’ is a cozy mystery series written by Lois Greiman, with the first book published in 2005 and currently six books deep.

I love the premise of this mystery series. One of the hardest things about investing in any cozy mystery is believing the unbelievable. The theme of most cozy’s is an amateur sleuth cracking real whodunits. Readers are willing to suspend belief in the face of a ‘cozy’ tag, but there also has to be a grain of truth to the impossible. That’s what Lois Greiman does with her series – it’s quite plausible that an L.A. psychologist would be privy to a few skeletons in closets and therefore in a position to insert herself into various investigations.

I did take pause at one off-page characters being called Stephenie Meyers. . . even more so when that character turned out to be a B-grade starlet who was known around Hollywood for getting around town and consequently topped herself. It was just dumb-luck that ‘Unzipped’ came out in 2005, the same year as ‘Twilight’. A happy-awkward coincidence that had me chuckling.

The romance with detective Jack Rivera is equal parts frustrating and heated. Frustrating, because they don’t fall into bed straight away (drats!) but heated for their banter and clear attraction which keeps things interesting and sizzling;
“Projecting responsibility, Raver?”
“What’s that?”
“The tendency to place your shortcomings on someone else. we call it projecting responsibility.”
He leaned closer. I could feel the heat of his body. “Just what shortcomings are you referring to, Ms. McMullen?”
The oxygen was being sucked slowly out of my lungs. I leaned back. “I just meant–”
Chrissy is very quick. She spouts long Gilmore Girls-esque, sarcastic pop-culture-referencing dialogues that will have your head spinning. And as rapid-fire as her dialogue is with various characters is, Chrissy’s inner monologue is just as quick. It can cause a mild case of whiplash on the page. . . and sometimes I wanted Chrissy to slow down and not overkill her own zaniness. But at the same time I loved Greiman’s distinct style, her fast pace and fast talk really suited the L.A. setting and the helter-skelter murder mysteries.

Two books in and I’m really enjoying this series. I love the cozy premise of an L.A. psychologist getting involved in her patient’s messy whodunit’s. Sometimes Greiman pushes the protagonist’s charisma to a point that it grates, but otherwise Chrissy is a relatable and entertaining amateur sleuth. The romance has lots of steamy potential (even if the longevity of flirtation is frustrating) and I look forward to reading more books in the ‘Chrissy McMullen’ series.


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