Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: TURN KEY CONDITION by M.L. Ortega

To make ends meet, Maggie, a divorcee with three sons, takes creative moonlighting to the limit. While cleaning a model home with her friend, Jane, she discovers a naked dead man with a donut over his genitals. The dead man is a married contractor who had once groped Maggie. 

 Maggie and Jane become caught up in the investigation to the annoyance of the police officer first on the scene. The Hispanic cop responds with pithy Mexican proverbs to Maggie’s sleuthing efforts. 

 Then Maggie’s ex rolls into town scheming to sell the family home out from under her with the help of an unscrupulous realtor, who is a suspect in the murder. When her sons pop up into the crosshairs of the killer, Maggie sharpens her survival skills to protect them and bring down the murderer. 

 TURN KEY CONDITION features a heroine who stares down danger with the humor and grace gained from an earlier detour into life’s darkness.

Reviewed by: Sandra L.
Rating: 2.5 stars

Review: What could be more fun than cleaning celebrity homes at night? How about finding a dead body—naked!? All he had was a donut over the genitals. By the way, I also thought that the “donut” was a Krispy Kreme donut—you know, the kinds you find Homer Simpson salivating over. I actually thought that would’ve been funnier. Oh, well.

Right off the bat, the mystery of the dead body is presented to the reader, but then it immediately deviates to the background information of the two main characters, slowing the pace of the story. In fact, I wonder if this was even necessary since we return to that very scene at the end of chapter 1.

Still, the reader will enjoy Maggie’s biting wit. What I liked best about her was the humor she had about the whole situation. There’s a dead man in the middle of the room and all she can think of is getting paid for the night. Well, yeah! And what’s the harm of taking a photo to possibly sell to the tabloids? Hey, easy money! The struggle to make a buck is something we can all relate to.

Moving on, Maggie could not shake the wonder of who the killer was. Perhaps she was obsessing a little too much about it, which then resulted in an in-depth speculation that included every minute character in the book. Who could’ve done such a thing? How did they do it? And, most importantly, why?

As we get down to the nitty-gritty of the case, I found my curiosity waning.  Perhaps it was the languorous details concerning the victim’s real estate entities. Then there was all this talk about the Taliban, KGB, CIA, and SEAL—nothing really that tickled my fancy. The austere approach of Officer Fortunado “Tuna” Rocha (the Hispanic cop) was a stark contrast to Maggie’s neurotic ingenuity. Did that make them a great team? Not necessarily. I felt that their chemistry was off-synch. Maggie and Jane were the dynamic duo, but, unfortunately, they knew zilch about solving crimes.

Overall, this was an okay read. I was allured by the peculiar fashion of the murder (in fact, the entire story centered on that hilarious anecdote) and entertained by the occasional quips between the characters, but I wasn’t completely fulfilled by the fatuous plot development and general flow.  

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