Magic Hour, by Susan Isaacs

>> Saturday, July 05, 2003

Susan Isaacs is one of my favourite authors, and her book Shining Through (also a pretty sucky movie starring Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas) is among my top 3 favourite books. Her books are supposed to be fiction, not romance, but some of them very definitely qualify, IMHO.

Anyway, a comment in a message board, asking for suggestions of romances narrated mainly with the hero's POV reminded me of her Magic Hour, and made me want to reread it.

Movie producer Sy Spencer -- one of the premier summer residents of the Hamptons, Long Island's oh-so-fashionable beach resort for everyone who is anyone -- has hosted his last power clambake, thanks to whoever shot him dead beside his oceanfront pool.

Heading the investigation is Hamptons native Steve Brady. His prime suspect is Sy's ex-wife Bonnie, a strangely appealing and energetic woman both in and out of bed. As the case against Bonnie builds, so does Brady's obsession with her. Before long, he's laying the case and his career on the line for her, ignoring all the rules, all the evidence, and all common sense.
The first-person narration from the hero's point of view was less successful than I remembered (I thought he sounded like a woman sometimes, especially when describing women), but that's the only thing that wasn't perfect here. And, in any case, I loved his (or rather, Isaacs'!) voice so much that the fact that it wasn't perfectly believable wasn't so bad. An A.

Isaacs is just wonderful at characterization, all those little details she uses to describe people, it really does work. And she does it with lots of humour and wit. Even characters that appeared in only a couple of pages (Bonnie's neighbour, Wendy, for instance) are more real that the protagonists in some novels.

The book is a perfect combination of romance and mystery. The romance is outstanding, and something out of the ordinary enough that I loved seeing it. In how many novels do you get to see the hero choosing 45-year-old, infertile, promiscuous woman over innocent, pure, teacher-of-the-disabled, 24-year-old? No idealized, perfect relationship here. These two each had their own problems, but I really bought them together.

The mystery, too, was excellently done. Full of twists and turns, and the solution was truly ingenious and believable. And the one to hit on it was the heroine, too!

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