Either this series started growing on me by book three, or the writing and characters matured to a point where I began to enjoy them more despite the things that annoyed me. The main character’s tendency toward unpleasant stereotype was still very much present; I still can’t completely accept the growing I’m–a–little–bit–Opera–He’s–a–little–bit–rock–’n’–roll romance … You know, he makes a lot of accommodations for her, accompanying her to the opera and refraining from carrying his gun into the shop (he’s a cop, so it’s not as WHOA as it sounds) and drinking tea and so on; I haven’t seen her bend in the slightest toward his preferences. No rock concerts for her, or … honestly, what does the man like? There’s never been any kind of information provided about him. Where does he live? Does he indeed love rock ‘n’ roll? Where would he eat given his own free and clear choice? What the heck is his favorite color? Isn’t it a little sad that none of that sort of thing is completely ignored by both the author and the main character, who after all is supposed to be falling in love with him?
About those stereotypes… From what I recall, her chef Julio may be being hit on by another young man. The MC muses, “He didn’t seem like the type you’d expect to attract that kind of attention. Julio was not effeminate in any way. He was completely masculine, as far as I was concerned. Yes, he wore colorful chef’s pants and matching hats, but he never swished.” Well, then, if he didn’t swish, that’s definitive. Rather late in the book, though, there is more certainty about another character (or else thought he was really angry): “This guy was flaming.” That’s quite the gaydar she has there.
Speaking of unfortunate commentary, another reason to dislike the MC was this exchange:
“She’s still in shock,” he said. I nodded. “I know what that’s like.”
The “she” in the first quote is the mother of a murder victim. So my response to the second quote was “Really? Had a daughter murdered lately, you insensitive twit?”
I just, at times, really really did dislike the main character. Whether it was the rampant bigotry as above, or little irritations like referring to, I believe, cheese as “large chunks of moo”, and overuse of the word “smooch” (once is kind of overuse), or the lying to herself–slash–the reader (“Normally I didn’t raid the tearoom’s kitchen for meals” – that’s ALL SHE DOES), she was constantly annoying me.
Where was I? Oh right. Despite the aspects of the storytelling which keep me from rating these books higher, I have to say I liked this one. It was a bit gutsy to take it where it went with the second murder victim. And hey – I never knew that Tosca is “the ‘Scottish play’ of opera.” Good to know.