Bloodline, by Jill Jones

>> Friday, September 22, 2006

I've sincerely no idea of why I bought so many books by Jill Jones. The two of hers that I've read (one written as Emily LaForge) haven't been good. Both have been books I wanted to like, because they had extremely intriguing ideas behind them, but the execution was so mediocre that I couldn't.

But I still couldn't stop myself from buying a batch of her books on Amazon Auctions. One of them was Bloodline.

Victoria Thomas is one of the FBI's finest criminal profilers, a career born of the tragic, unsolved murder of her younger sister. She's also a closet "Sherlockian," involved in a group that follows the famous English detective. This hobby leader her to London, to a symposium on Sherlock Holmes, where she finds unexpected passion....and a chilling murder mystery involving a modern-day Jack the Ripper.He's murdering women and leaving clever, diabolical messages for Victoria to follow. He's teasing her, taunting her, daring her to find him. For he, too, is following his calling--answering the terrible demons of his bloodline, proving he is every bit as elusive as his infamous ancestor.In the chilling Bloodline, Jill Jones weaves a spellbinding tale of icy suspense, haunting romance, and lost history, that spans from the time of Jack the Ripper in 1888, to this very day.
I should have learned my lesson with those two books. My experience with Bloodline was almost exactly the same: fascinating idea behind it, a plot with some very interesting aspects to it, but crappy characterization and a tendency to go over the top with her plots. A C.

When her sister was found butchered in a motel room and the police bungled the investigation, Victoria Thomas decided to go into law enforcement. Seven years later, she's one of the FBI's best profilers. She puts all her energy into her job and practically has no life. Which is why, after a particularly harrowing case, her boss insists she take a vacation.

Did I say Vicky has no life? Well, she does have a hobby. She's a Sherlockian, and she decides to take advantage of her forced vacation by taking a trip to London to attend a convention of fellow Holmes afficionados. On the first morning, she meets Jonathan Blake, a Scotland Yard inspector and a Ripperologist who's there to deliver a conference to the Sherlockians on Jack the Ripper (the theme of that particular convention is "Where was Sherlock Holmes when we needed him?", or something like that. Maybe it's just the nerd in me talking, but it sounded pretty cool!).

Vicky and Jonathan clash at first (he doesn't believe in anything but evidence he can touch, and has no time for that profiler mumbo-jumbo), but they're soon very attracted to each other and begin an affair. But that night a crime is committed in Whitechapel by someone who seems to be channeling Jack the Ripper, and it becomes clear that the killer is somehow focused on Victoria. And so the hunt starts, with Vicky and Jonathan working together to catch the killer, first in Britain, and later in the United States when he takes his crimes across the Atlantic and goes on a rampage all over that country.

At first, I thought this one was going to be better than the others, but my hopes were soon dashed. For instance, Jonathan and the romance. At first, I quite liked the guy, and I liked his hesitance because he's not good with women and he feels Victoria won't pay attention to him. But after a while, the wishy-washy idiot started driving me nuts with all his bitching and moaning about how he isn't good enough for Vicky, and how they have nothing in common because she comes from a rich family and his dad is a steelworker from Manchester. Er, I don't know, great sex, a career in law-enforcement and a passion for justice? Sounds good, for starters (and a bit corny; I apologize). Anyway, he kept trying to make a huge deal out of nothing, and that just smelled like fake conflict to me.

Vicky I soon began to dislike intensely. When they first start work on the case, she's there completely unofficially. One would think a good profiler in that situation woud try to be unobtrusive and observe all she can, but not our Vicky. She immediately starts acting as if she's in charge of that investigation. She's way out of line by butting in and insisting on making her sweeping pronouncements instead of allowing the policemen to work. She's a real jerk, in short, and very unprofessional. Take her first outburst. Jonathan has allowed her to go with him and observe, and they meet one of his men, who's interviewing a potential female suspect. Well, Vicky immediately pronounces her not a suspect and tells Jonathan that it's because these and these and these reasons. All in front of the woman. Give me a break!

And to make things worse, she's one of those ninnies who are fond of either refusing or forgetting to take the precautions they promised they would. When the idiot was offering herself as bait for the killer and she decided she needed to take a bike to go buy doughnuts (stupid enough on its own), and then she forgot to take her monitoring device, I hoped the killer would suceed in killing her (I had NO doubts that she would be attacked?)

The romance itself is very lukewarm and all tell and no show. Jones would tell us frequently that these two were incredibly hot for each other, but to be honest, if she hadn't been telling me, I would never have guessed it from seeing these two together. Well, other than the fact that they kept having sex, but even that frequent sex was really cold, so I could be forgiven for thinking they weren't hot for each other in spite of this!

As for the whole deal about their very different investigation styles (the profiling vs hard evidence thing), this was something else that smelled of fake conflict. As far as I know, profiling is pretty mainstream these days, and it's not "intuition" (though.... is astrology an accepted method of profiling? Like: "he's organized and meticulous, so he's probably a Virgo, but passionate, so he must have some Leo ascendents", or whatever. I'm not rejecting this out of hand (though I my first impulse is to do so), but it does seem weird). Jonathan's big eye-opening, when he accepts Vicky's profiling might actually contribute something to an investigation? Didn't buy it. Why would he change his mind, if her profiling never actually helped discover anything? It felt to me more as if he changed his mind just because he's hot for a profiler.

The case is actually pretty entertaining, if you ignore all this silliness. The author has an interesting theory about the identity of Jack the Ripper, and though she doesn't really argue it here (what she does is basically invent diaries and letters and missing police files that would prove it), it's fun to read. And the modern case, the modern Jack the Ripper who starts his rampage in Whitechapel and then takes it to the US, well, that was pretty good, too. Too graphic, and I kind of got the feeling the author was relishing them too much for my taste, but I enjoyed it.

I was toying with giving this book a slightly higher grade until we got to the ending. First there's the fact that both these two ace investigators, but most especially Vicky, suddenly became majorly obtuse. They were just incredibly slow to make connections. Like, there at the end of the book, Vicky is in a car with the murderer, and he's been ranting and raving about how he's going to kill her and how he's killed a certain person, and suddenly, after he's been going on for quite a while, Vicky astutely deduces "Oh, then you're the copycat Ripper" A round of applause for you, lady! And sorry, but it was sooooo obvious that it was this person. Or when it took a hundred hints before she realized the connection between William Coleman, the man she'd sent to prison, and a certain suspect, a connection that would have been obvious to anyone with half a brain on their first meeting. The more the book progressed, the less I believed that this woman could be a profiler.

And the resolution of the whole deal about discovering the identity of the original Jack the Ripper completely sucked, IMO. Ok, I'm going to have to go into spoilers here, you know what to do. [[[So they finally have in their hands the documentary proof of Jack the Ripper's identity (it's Queen Victoria's grandson, Prince Eddy, working with his lover... not a spoiler, we know this almost from the beginning), and that the Queen ordered this to be covered up. And these two brilliant investigators receive a summons from the current Queen to go meet her and bring all this material with them... and they do! My god, can you get any more stupid? Of course, they're forcibly relieved of all their diaries and letters and physical evidence, duh. Well, serves them right for being idiots.]]]

I should be saying here that all those other Jill Jones titles in my TBR are going to remain unread, but I'm not that sure I'll be strong enough to resist those fascinating-sounding plots, even knowing it's 99.9% certain they're not going to live up to their promise. There's always that 0.1%!


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