Sunday, March 14, 2010
Blind Delusion by Dorothy Phaire
(iUniverse / 1-440-16822-9 / 978-1-440-16822-2 / October 2009 / 476 pages / $25.95 / Hardcover $35.95 / Amazon $19.72 / Hardcover $27.32 / Kindle $7.96)
Reviewed by Dianne Salerni for PODBRAM
The second novel in Dorothy Phaire’s romantic mystery series is a satisfying read and an admirable follow-up to her first novel, Murder and the Masquerade. Commencing a few months after the conclusion of the first novel, the book opens with Dr. Renee Hayes, a mature black psychologist living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, trying to repair her damaged marriage. Renee has broken off her affair with handsome police detective, Deek Hamilton, seeing no future with a man a dozen years her junior, no matter how much attraction there is between them. She is determined to rekindle the flame of love in her own marriage, although it sometimes seems that her continued attempts to woo Bill Hayes are nothing but a blind delusion. While Bill is happy to accept any accommodations she makes for him, he is more interested in pursuing a start-up business with a shady Washington lawyer than in making his wife happy. With the arrival of her 45th birthday, Renee wonders if her dreams of love and a child of her own will ever be fulfilled.
Meanwhile, Renee’s new secretary, Brenda Johnson, is wondering if she’s been blindly deluded about her own husband. She believed that the ne’er-do-well Jerome had managed to keep himself drug-free for eighteen months, but he is unexpectedly fired from his job after a random drug test. Jerome protests his innocence, but that doesn’t change the fact that Brenda is now supporting them on her income, while attending night school and taking care of their baby. Brenda’s mother always said Jerome was trouble, and it turns out that she was right. Jerome’s work troubles eventually lead to blackmail, arson, kidnapping, and murder.
Ms. Phaire’s strength is character building. She has created a cast of believable and likeable women: We sympathize with Renee and Brenda, each bound to men who cannot give them what they want, and each of them reluctant to abandon her marriage anyway. Ms. Phaire’s narration is, for the most part, smooth and highly readable. There are some editing errors in the book, but not enough to distract the reader. I do think the novel could have been trimmed by 50 pages or so. Repeated information and unnecessary scenes slow down the pace of the story, preventing it from achieving the really taut and gripping suspense that could have been there with a more judicious editing.
Overall, Blind Delusion fulfills the potential I saw in Murder and the Masquerade and promises the continuation of a fine mystery series with a smart, professional, and highly sympathetic heroine.
See also: Dianne's High Spirits Review
Murder and the Masquerade Reviews
Dorothy Phaire's Website