OK, ladies, we all know "Romance Fiction" contributes bodice-ripping escapism to the murky lives of the barely literate and easily bored. Much of it is cranked out in precise, formulized and predictable cliches. It's long on sweat and short on substance and structure. Others certainly admit to reading it; we don't! When "Mystery" is added to the recipe, we ask why the hell the heroine goes back for more...abuse?. . .submission? Essentially, that is the only "mystery."
Not so in Helen Haddad's debut effort, "Picture of Guilt," which presents a subtle element often absent in this genre: PLOT! She gives us a well-crafted and cohesive whodunit set in Granite Run, a rural suburb of Pittsburg. Attention to detail and plenty of indirect (but deceptive) clues entice readers to stay with her on a convoluted path of treachery and greed. Off-beat characters, plenty of red herrings, and gore galore are interspersed with lovely descriptive passages. Great dialog between the principles includes several laugh-out-loud gems.
Perhaps there's potential for a television series under the Jerry Bruckheimer umbrella, as la "CSI." It could be called "Forensic Art Granite Run." Or not.
It's all good, unpredictable stuff, lots of fun. To echo the heroine's enticing post-coital request, "May I please have some more?"