RogerBW's Blog

Revenge of the Cootie Girls, Sparkle Hayter 16 December 2014

1997; third of Hayter's mysteries about TV journalist Robin Hudson. Robin's just trying to find her intern and other co-workers for a girls' night out, but somehow it doesn't seem to come together.

For anyone expecting a third murder mystery, this is a very different sort of book. There is a mystery, certainly: someone's set up a treasure hunt game with clues all over New York, questions that only Robin would know the answers to. Her old schoolfriend Julie Goomey, Robin's companion on her first visit to New York whom she hasn't seen for quite a few years, seems to be behind it. But what's really going on?

Unfortunately it's not really possible to talk about that without giving away far too much of the story. On the other hand, this is mostly a book of character and reminiscence, dealing with Robin's set of slightly strange friends, and indeed how they remain friends in spite of their divergent weirdnesses. There is a running plot, and it does get resolved, but the meat of this story is the characterisation and quirky humour. The look into Robin's past seems to bleed into the present, with her coming across as rather more optimistic and innocent than in previous volumes, but it all hangs together. There's even an explanation for why a middle-aged fellow might be seen hanging around with a succession of young and fit men (and not just the obvious one).

And as far as character and reminiscence go, this is one of the few books that is really tied to its setting: New York both of the 1970s and of the 1990s is a character here just as much as any of the people with legs and heads and things. You could write a book in this general style set in Boston, or London, or Amsterdam, but it wouldn't be at all the same book.

A step up and sideways from Nice Girls Finish Last; perhaps a trifle self-indulgent, but most definitely highly enjoyable. Followed by The Last Manly Man.

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