walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_A Desperate Game_, Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle

Published originally in the 1980s, in a world of Remington Steele, this ebook reprint has at least a few revisions. One at least two occasions, a character refers to cell phones (as cell phones, as opposed to as car phones -- the car phone reference I believe to be in the original). In the first instance, it appears to replace use of a payphone and either a phone book or Information/asking for operator assistance, and after a few paragraphs, the character puts the receiver down. In the second instance, it is tossed off, probably to replace attempts to reach a character at the office and at home and failing -- I called your cell; you didn't answer. The revisions are unfortunate, because they are anachronistic and unaccompanied by other, more substantial revisions that would be necessary to make the novel as a whole believable in either the present day, or even in the 1990s.

The plot revolves around a company which makes computer or computer like products. Guinevere's sister (SPOILER!) slept with the boss when she was his secretary. He dumped her and asked her to quit. Guinevere came on board as a temp and rigged the benefits system to cut checks adequate to pay for her sister's subsequent therapy. Somewhat later, an employee of the company writes some code that detects Shenanigans over in shipping -- then he disappears and his body is found in a ravine by hikers. Meanwhile, the company brings Zac (hero) on board to try to identify who is ripping the company off.

Guinevere's temp work at the company (data entry) makes no sense in the contemporary world, and fairly limited sense any time after about 1995. The two computer programmers are working on a PC game during their off hours; the description of the game only really makes sense in the mid- to late- 1980s. The car the hero drives, his lust after the CEO's car phone and nicer vehicle make no sense after 1990ish. (I'm still trying to nail down the broccoli puree remark. I haven't consistently eaten at that kind of restaurant to know the years that vegetable purees were a Thing. For all I know, that was an edit.) Further, Pioneer Square is depicted at a point in its development compatible only with the original publication and the idea that there's anything inexpensive much less vacant in Wallingford is, well, risible.

So dumping cell phones into this thing was, to say the least, jarring.

But if you sort of erase those bits and replace them with what was probably in the original book, it reads well for what it is. You can sort of think of it as a 1980s historical. I am a little curious whether JAK reworked any of the character interactions. Back In the Day, a lot of "seduction" and other sex scenes were written in a way that a lot of us even then thought of as rape, and is unambiguously rape when read with 2013 sensitivity. None of that going on here, and JAK was variable even then. If you have a paper copy, I'd love an opinion about whether JAK cleaned any of it up, or if she left it alone.

I don't know how the rest of the (short) series develops the characters. If this is like _Gift of Gold_/_Gift of Fire_, I would expect more of Guinevere and Zac, with them probably moving in together in one of the books and getting engaged in another, while continuing to engage with mysteries that Zac's company is hired to solve, and which Guinevere is deployed as a temp in the course of. But for all I know, secondary characters and relationships instead take the spotlight -- I'll post if I read more.

If you are a long time reader of JAK, you'll notice the usual tics: getting into a car and suddenly realizing just how close to each other they are, the man engaging in a little B&E, the woman protesting, and then the woman going even further (taking stuff, doing the same thing later in another location on her own). As always, the connection between the two is depicted in part by having them freak out when the other is in danger, even if they kind of can't really know that -- this is developed a lot more in the Arcane series but shows up in a lot of earlier JAK as well. And there's the usual descriptions of hilariously inaccurate newspaper coverage of whatever the hero and heroine have been up to.

Not sure if I'll read more. I'm currently reading backwards in the Harmony books. Either I've completely forgotten several of these (possible!) or I never actually read them (also possible).

ETA: The reviews over at goodreads are variable. Character names are misspelled. Someone asserts it is set in the 70s (!! maybe a typo?).

ETAYA: Looks like book 2 has the mystery turn up with Guinevere's job -- and they go to the San Juans! This sounds promising . . .
Tags: book review
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