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Bewildering Stories

Genie Davis, The Model Man

reviewed by Alison McBain

The Model Man
Author: Genie Davis
Publisher: Zebra Debut
Date: January 1, 2006
Length: 352 pages
ISBN: 082177977X; 9780821779774

The weather has turned hot, the beaches are packed, and that means summer reading. So I hit the romance aisle and, after browsing a bit, picked up The Model Man by Genie Davis.

The book opens up from the perspective of a surfer/model called Ricky Littlejohn, whose life has gone down the tubes because of too many drugs, too many women, and too much partying. Eventually, with his career in the can, he’s found overdosed in his hot tub, an apparent suicide.

Christy reads about Ricky’s demise in a smutty newspaper while waiting for her new client to show up. She’s a not-so-recent transplant to LA, and has a smorgasbord of jobs in which she claims some expertise. She’s a pretend psychic, a pretend waitress, a pretend movie director — but a real con artist. She and her friend/neighbor Louie run different scams while waiting to hit it big in Hollywood. Because, hey, she’s got to pay the rent, right?

When Joe Richter, a sexy cop from Texas, shows up at her workplace, she’s conflicted between her first, natural instinct that tells her to run like hell, and the equally strong impulse to confess everything and jump into the sack with him. He needs her help to figure out what happened to Ricky Littlejohn, as he’s convinced Ricky was murdered. Christy figures she’ll play along. It’s not really a con, but more of a paid vacation for her, since he hires her for psychic services. Her plan is to have a good time for a night or two, and then get the hell out of Dodge.

But when people start trying to kill her, Joe is the only person she can turn to who might have some answers. The biggest problem is he’s not who he claims to be, either. Christy needs to figure out if she can trust him and her growing feelings for him — or if he’s conning her.

The book was fast to read and somewhat snarky in tone, with a good balance of thrills, romance, suspense and humor. It’s not meant to be a realistic mystery, though it’s told more in the hijinks and humor style of Janet Evanovich, with a strong thread of comedy running through it. Characters sometimes delve into the absurd, and the plot sometimes relies on coincidence rather than realistic detective work. It’s labeled as a romance, but it could just have easily been in the mystery category, as figuring out whodunit is the central motivation of the characters.

But all the elements of the book were great, such as voice, dialogue, character development and plot twists. It was exactly the type of page-turner that I was hoping to find to kick off my summer. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Copyright © 2017 by Alison McBain

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