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>The Quicker Picker-Upper

>I just finished listening to Lisa Scottoline’s new mystery, Dirty Blonde, and am confounded by one of the plot points. (Spoiler.)

Cate Fante, a newbie Philadelphia judge, has a little problem with stress, and has been relieving it once a month or so by picking up rough trade at seedy bars and bedding them in no-tell motels. In the course of a high-profile court case, her secret life comes out and is splashed all over the news and papers. It’s actually rather daring of Scottoline to give her heroine such an icky compulsion to deal with; the problem is the tidy way in which the novel cleans it up: early on, Cate confesses her latest indiscretion to her best friend, swears never to do it again, and, apparently, never does. Why give a character such a interesting dark side only to solve the problem by switching on a light? Why raise demons only to exorcise them so easily?

Of course, had Dirty Blonde been a YA novel, we might have been subjected to endless scenes of cutting, OCD, and Cate’s sessions with her court-appointed (and long-winded) psychologist, so maybe I should count my blessings.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Anonymous says:

    >This isn’t a response to your question, which I can’t answer because I don’t read many contemporary mysteries (I read old ones mostly, and a few historical series). But I just thought I’d mention that Barbara Rosenblat is the only reader to whom I’ve ever considered sending fan mail. Did she do a good job with this?

  2. Roger Sutton says:

    >She did–to my ears, sometimes Rosenblat sounds too sophisticated for the character she’s voicing but that wasn’t a problem here. She always does an excellent job of distinguishing each character from the others. There’s a different problem with the one I’m listening to now–Rosenblat reading Jane Stanton Hitchock’s Social Crimes. All the voices are good, but sometimes the inflection doesn’t match up with the adverb, so it sounds like “I want to KISS you!,” she said demurely.”

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