Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: Skin Deep by Timothy Hallinan

The Simeon Grist private-eye novels by 2011 Edgar and Macavity Award nominee Timothy Hallinan have become cult favorites, and here is the one that started it all.

For a fee so big he can't turn it down, Simeon Grist is hired to watchdog the kind of guy he'd usually prefer to throw through the nearest window. Toby Vane is the golden boy of prime-time television, whose gee-whiz smile and chiseled features mask a dark secret that would take the shine off for his millions of adoring female fans: every now and then he beats up a woman, and almost any woman will do. When some of the women around Toby begin to turn up dead, Simeon has to figure out whether he's protecting a murderer -- or whether one of Toby's multitude of enemies wants to put him away forever. And when Simeon meets the beautiful Nana, the whole situation becomes very personal, very fast.

From the library

This series is supposed to be great for readers who love Robert B. Parker and similar authors but I just didn't see it.

The story itself is rather blah with a drug addicted misogynistic pretty boy actor and a a drug addicted washed up stripper. Yes, there were a lot of drugs in this. So, so many drugs. Too many drugs. So many drugs that I just wanted the author to stop describing all the drug taking because it was just plain getting repetitive. It got to the point where I was thinking "Really? They're popping another handful of pills? Why haven't they overdosed yet? Maybe they'll overdose this time and I won't have to read about their drug habits anymore."

The characters were bland and one dimensional. The strippers were stereotypical drug addicts who drank too much with "boyfriends" who pimped them out. No one was likable, least of all the main character, Simeon who was whiny, annoying, and condescending. Really, Dexter is more empathetic than this guy.

I'm not normally one to harp on supposed misogyny depicted in novels, but it was so over the top in this that I really must mention it. The characters (and I'm seriously beginning to wonder if the author as well) firmly believe that women are a lower class of person and are weak and less intelligent than the male characters. Approximately two of the female characters were portrayed as relatively capable, but they were also portrayed as overweight, bitchy, or lesbian. I'm not entirely sure if the author really hates women, but I'm beginning to think that he actually does after reading this.

Overall, this was mildly amusing at best and if you don't mind being hit over the head with the author's dislike of women then it's a decent enough mystery. I would never go so far as to call this good but it's tolerable. I really cannot recommend it though since there are so many other, better books out there.

★★☆☆☆ = Just Okay

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