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Murder on the Rocks by Clara Nipper
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Murder on the Rocks

by Clara Nipper

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author.

I am both reluctant to write this review, and vaguely unsure how to rate this book. But let’s see what I can do, eh?

First off, and I double checked this issue just now, this book is marketed as a Mystery, so let’s start off with the mystery:

Mystery
My first question would be: What mystery? Right, let’s move on.

The book stars a police detective in Tulsa Oklahoma named Jill Rogers. She is self described as being gung-ho on policing, top-notch, really really good. Meanwhile her boss constantly makes comments indicating that he thinks she’s dumb, and would let her go if she wasn’t just so gosh darn lucky on her cases – closing so many of them.

The first body involves someone found in a blood smeared room. Shot multiple times. Expectation is that the person was killed by bullet. Except, Jill notices, the bullet holes didn’t bleed (or something like that) then notices a line around the body’s neck. Therefore, strangled to death and shot afterwards. Jill’s expert eyesight finds what, apparently, no one else was able to find – a bullet sitting in a sink. Jill, after providing her expertise, immediately heads off to another body. She’s going to help a sheriff named Perryman with a dead body. That first body? Never again mentioned in this book. At least, not that I recall. And I was looking. Did I dream this sequence? Did this death not actually occur in this book? Okay, fearing I’d gone insane, I just checked. Yep, the first body is as I said. Hmms.

Right, so, second body. A woman’s body has been found on the side of the road. Everyone and their dog (not really) believe that it is a simple case of accidental death and to record it as such and close the case file – everyone that is except for Sheriff Perryman and Detective Jill Rogers. One thing before I move on – what the fuck? Even if it’s a case of accidental death – the body shows evidence of being hit and dragged to death. That, in and of itself, even if accidental, is a crime. The DA and everyone just wants the file closed? WTF? Right, whatever. Neither Perryman nor Rogers accepts this decision and they investigate. Mostly Perryman. Rogers is kind of busy being a bitch elsewhere. Sadly, the story follows Rogers, so the investigation is mostly ‘off-page’ and being handled by Perryman. Except for an interview or two.

Right. So body three and four – husband and wife. Rogers, in yet another moment of insanity, learns of yet another body that ‘should have been hers’ and decides, right then and there, to go to the crime scene. But she has no car. And the one car she has been using she is told she can’t use. No taxis can get to her quick enough. So she hires a limo. Arrives at the crime scene. Finds dead husband, sexually assaulted and dead wife. Immediately believes she knows who did it. Roars off to ‘catch them’. One of the few times Rogers is actually shown actively ‘investigating’.

And then the fifth body – mentioned but not seen – a person connected to the sheriff. Rogers offers to help Perryman. She is turned down. D.A. mentions a twist. Rogers doesn’t investigate. She’s just told this twist. Later she decides to visit someone, the probable murderer and gets shot at. While there she finds what she needs to make her case – through shrewd observation.

I’ve a vague idea that one I marked as the fifth body was actually the sixth mentioned, but I can’t recall what other body was found/mentioned.

So, where exactly is the mystery? Yeah, I mentioned a bunch of deaths that could have been investigated and been mysteries to be solved. But, as mentioned, Rogers doesn’t actually investigate any of them (other than participating in an interview or two on the case she worked on with Perryman) except for the husband & wife murder. Which she solves, but only after running around like a moron. Actually, she didn’t solve it, or at least complete the investigation, for a reason I mention in a spoiler down in police procedure.

A bunch of deaths which are either ignored, investigated by others, or poorly investigated by Rogers does not make a mystery. Maybe a humor book, but not a mystery.

So, is this more of a ‘police procedural’ book? Real cops have multiple unrelated crimes to work on. Is this supposed to be some gritty realism type of book? Well, let’s see . . .

Police Procedure
Jill Rogers is one of the worst police officers I’ve ever seen depicted in fiction. Who isn’t, you know, actively corrupt or attempting to get themselves fired (for whatever weird reason they might be attempting to do that).

Despite thinking of herself as being something of a supercop, Rogers has some rather major flaws.
1) Rogers has poor gun discipline. She pulls her gun at the drop of a hat. It’s almost instinctual – which is shown in one scene when she almost pulled her gun when someone surprised her. While talking with subjects in recorded interviews, Jill plays with her gun. Spinning it, pointing it at the suspect, doing everything wrong possible. Later she pulls it and holds it against the head of the DA. Then points it at herself. Using it as a pointing device. Constantly that gun is out – but I do not recall it ever going off (even that time I mentioned above where she had been fired upon – she couldn’t return fire because of cold hands . . . or something). The only explanation I can think of is that she actually has no bullets in the gun. But even then, good gun discipline says to treat all firearms as if they are loaded. I.e., don’t point them at your own head.
2) Rogers tries, as much as she can, to ignore or avoid orders. She lacks respect and discipline towards her superiors. I’ll just mention the avoid orders – several times Rogers learns of dead bodies that ‘should have been hers to investigate’ but no one can find her. Told to her by an assistant district attorney Marny Marlowe. Who, for the most part, seems to have no problem finding Rogers (weird how others can’t find her, eh?).
3) Breaking any and every law she wants, because hey, she’s a cop – giving cigarettes to underage people. Kidnapping kids (or, in other words, shoving 10 year olds into your car and driving off with them without asking anyone permission or otherwise mentioning what they are doing with the kid). Is this supposed to be funny or something? No? Just didn’t want to take the time to have the cop do the few things so it wasn’t kidnapping?

Of the crime scenes she visited: (1) the first one went uninvestigated; (2) she seemed to work on the second only when forced to do so by Perryman; (3&4) she rapidly determined who she thinks did the crime and roars off to get him – piss poor police work there (yeah yeah, same style used in that murder used by a guy Rogers arrested in the past; but 1) she investigates without waiting for backup and almost gets killed; 2) arrests ‘the fucker’; 3) the fucker didn’t do it; 4) evidence of who in fact did do it was on the crime scene – something that Rogers would have noticed if she had, you know, spent more time looking around; 5) the scene involving this incorrectly assumed murderer seems to only have been included so that Rogers could learn that two people were working together – she finds one of them . . . and never looks for the other and basically the only time that Rogers is actually shown ‘investigating’; (5) I’m not actually sure what she did regarding the fifth body found constitutes investigation.

If this is actually supposed to be a police procedural type of book – it’s showing a piss poor excuse for a police detective.

It’s marketed as a mystery, not a romance, but let’s look at that, shall we?

Romance
Jill Rogers, for lack of a better word, is a dick. Selfish. Me me me. Which doesn’t specifically address the romance question, eh? Sorry.

The activity that occurs in this book does not, really, constitute a romance. Which is fitting since this is a mystery not a romance.

Let’s see, what did I put in my status updates. I guess the romance is supposed to be between Jill Rogers and Sophie?
They have a bad horrible relationship, and while Jill is a massive bitch, Sophie isn’t exactly a good match for her. She seems to know, accidentally or otherwise, how to set Jill off. Hmm, I mean, get her to do stupid things that in turn cause Sophie to get pissed at Jill about. Having a woman that ‘accepts’ some (most?) of your bullshit is good. Having that same woman also be the cause of you almost continuously doing stupid shit isn’t good.

I want to make some comment about abandoning a woman, excepting her to wait for you, waiting something like six months before you return, getting pissed at them when they don’t immediately fall into your arms, getting even more angry when you spot a man there, thrusting yourself between their relationship . . . but I am unsure how to make said comment.

Sex
There are two sex scenes (well, I recall two). One involves the roughest sex I’ve ever seen involving two women who were acting in a consensual way, and didn’t involve some kind of BDSM relationship. The other one probably should just be ignored and wiped from memory (bah, repeated use of the word ‘turgid’ annoyed me; especially now that I actually look it up and see it doesn’t mean what I thought it did. Heh).

Humor
A lot of the stuff that happens in this book appears as if it was intended or included for humor. I am uncertain if that was in fact the case. I did, though, laugh twice. Hopefully this was not supposed to be a humor book.

The scene wherein Jill walks along beside a car as it ‘goes out of control’, as in continues in a straight line, on the road, but unable to stop . . . caused one gasp of a laugh to escape.

Then, during that strange second sex scene, a comment here or there uttered by Alastair caused me to laugh.

Overall
Well, this is going to be a tough section to write. Especially since I don’t know how to rate this book. Hmms. I liked the cat, Jonathan. By the 14% mark I realized I deeply loathed the main character, Jill, and that never really left. Didn’t particularly care about any of the other characters. Though I suppose I do not have any specific issue with Penelope or Alistair (however his name is spelled).

There wasn’t much in the way of a mystery. The police work was such that I fear police. The romance, if what occurred can be labeled ‘romance’, annoyed the hell out of me. The humor element seemed to be there, forced, and caused only a moment or two of laughs.

I’m inclined to give this book a rating of 2 stars. Which would be my second worst rating for a Bold Strokes Book. I’ve rated about six 3 stars, most as 4 or 5 stars, and one as a 1 star work.

March 11 2016
( )
  Lexxi | Jun 26, 2016 |
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