"Death Can't Take a Joke" or "How to Avoid the Murder-She-Wrote Sydrome" by Anya Lipska

Death Can't Take a Joke (Kiszka and Kershaw) - Anya Lipska


Crime fiction is riddled with clichéd characters, that, in and of itself, is not a bad thing (it's all in the hands of the artist...a few examples come to mind: P.D James, Michael Connelly, Len Deighton, John Le Carré, Robert Littell, Henning Mankell, R. J. Ellory).

Pick up a book at random. Any book. I can tell you with almost 100% accuracy that every character in the book will fall into one of three groups:


(1) The gutless protagonist: This is usually a sidekick character who is too weak to stand up for himself;


(2) The delicate, easily hurt, easily offended, easily upset, irritable, temperamental, tender, thin-skinned, touchy, and umbrageous inspector. I've complained about this in previous reviews. These characters are capricious, changeable, erratic, faddish, fickle, fitful, flighty, impulsive, inconstant, mercurial, temperamental, unpredictable, unstable, unsteady, volatile (I've run out of adjectives lol); they also like to spend time reading the classics, listening to weird music, and quoting high literature over a glass of whiskey;


(3) The loathsome assassin: He may occasionally indulge in a bit of murder that involves children, elderly people, or men, but his favourite target is women. Especially young women, whom he likes to physically torture in any number of creepy and outrageous ways.

 

I call this the "Murder She Wrote" Syndrome, ie, if you come across an Angela-Lansbury-setting or -character, run the other way as fast as you can.

 

Anya Lipska was able to avoid all these traits, but this second volume didn't make my day like the previous one did due to manifold reasons, all having to do with some clichéd characterisation, and some unbelievable twists. I'm not sure why, but this time around I was noticing some things that didn't bother me while reading the first volume, namely the clichéd characters (grumpy police chief, jovial best friend, golden hearted prostitute, etc) and settings (clichéd setting in this particular novel "post-iron-curtain Eastern European immigrants for dramatic effect").

 

Nevertheless it was still a fun read.

 

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader's copy (ARC) of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.