Rex Kusler: Desert Drop

Desert Drop (Las Vegas Mystery #3)
My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
General Placement: 1000+
Genre: Adult "Oh-so-mysterious" Mystery
Shipping Weight: 11.4 Ounces
Pages: 268

Private investigator and former homicide detective Alice James was just six months old when her father, Leon Stapper, abandoned his family. Forty years later, Alice has convinced herself she’s over it—until her half sister, Corina, calls her up and wants to meet. But before Alice and Corina can get acquainted, everything goes terribly, tragically wrong. Determined to uncover the truth behind what happened to her sister, Alice calls in reinforcements: Jim Snow, her partner in Las Vegas’s James & James Detective Agency who knows a thing or two about family drama. Their investigation takes them from Sin City to Silicon Valley, where Alice and Corina’s father reigns as a high-tech CEO. As Alice and Jim dig for clues, they find that Leon’s best friend and attorney Ron Bale took a very personal interest in Corina. Not to mention the fact that he used to be married to Leon’s ex-wife—until she vanished without a trace. Alice is convinced that if she and Jim can uncover the truth about the missing wife, they will discover what happened to Corina. But first, they will need a little help from some old friends.

My Thoughts
Objectively speaking, this is a mediocre book. Cliché beyond belief, its attempts at originality are feeble- the main character is African American, Vegas is brought up several hundred times, the final shootout takes place in a Port-a-potty… The worst part (as with many mysteries) is that the murderer is quite obvious for the reader, yet the “detectives” must chase a dozen leads and risk their lives to finally bring the convict to justice. Nothing is worse than slogging through a detective story with stupid detectives.

Yet, I had fun reading it. Perhaps this pleasure was derived from laughing at the characters’ stupidity, marveling at the plot’s contrivances, or reading the revoltingly “sensual” romance scenes. Or maybe there were portions of the book that were genuinely… exciting. To be honest, I gulped down this novel in one sitting. The hook is nice (okay, maybe even exceptional), and the story moves swiftly. The characters, while one-dimensional, are at least somewhat interesting; the fact that the murder victim is the main character’s never-seen-before-half-sister sets the emotional stakes a little higher.

This novel is meant for entertainment, and shallow entertainment at that. But maybe shallow entertainment is necessary. After all, if all books were remarkably thought-provoking, then the term “remarkably thought-provoking” would lose all meaning. The world needs Dan Browns and Rex Kuslers to bring out the exceptionality of these provocative and meaningful books. And maybe the world needs Dan Browns and Rex Kuslers to write books that everyone can read and enjoy, and maybe laugh at.

And thus, this novel is respectable. Read Desert Drop for its entertainment value only. If you require meaningful literature, then don’t bother. Or maybe you can read this book so that you can laugh at its shortcomings. To each his own.

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