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‘Girl Can’t Help It’
by Max Allan Collins
Review

 

GIRL CAN’T HELP IT – (Krista Larson #2)

Cover image of the book 'Girl Can't help It' by author Mx Allan CollinsNo sooner do Hot Rod and the Pistons reunite for their induction into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, than two band members take a final bow. Both alleged suicides. A tragic way to go out. A bum way for one-hit wonders to be remembered. But it’s Labor Day weekend. The show must go on.

With replacements at the ready, the Pistons are back on home turf to headline the first ever Rock and Country Music Fest. Police Chief Krista Larson and her father, Keith, are there listening. And watching. Because they suspect there may be more to the band members’ untimely deaths than anyone else can see.

As Krista and Keith navigate the investigation, a dark picture of the band’s rocky history begins to take center stage. As betrayal, revenge, and blackmail start playing out in the present, the father-daughter team fear that this encore may be the band’s finale

MAX ALLAN COLLINS

Alternative Image Of Author Max Allan CollinsA frequent Mystery Writers of America “Edgar” nominee in both fiction and non-fiction categories, Max has earned an unprecedented number of Private Eye Writers of America “Shamus” nominations, winning for his Nathan Heller novels, True Detective (1983) and Stolen Away (1991) and also for achieving the PWA life achievement award, the Eye, in 2007.

His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Daniel Craig, directed by Sam Mendes.

Max’s movie novels include Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster, whilst as an independent filmmaker in the mid-west, he has written and directed five features and two documentaries.

His many comics credits include CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, based on the hit TV series, for which he has also written video games, jigsaw puzzles, and ten novels that have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Max’s hit one-man show, Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life, was nominated for an Edgar for Best Play of 2004 by the Mystery Writers of America; whilst his many other credits include. film criticism, short fiction, song-writing, trading-card sets, and a regular column in Asian Cult Cinema magazine.

His non-fiction work has received many honors, whilst as a musician (lead singer and keyboard), he has performed and recorded with his band Crusin’ since 1974.

Max, who also writes as Patrick Culhane, lives in Muscatine, Iowa, with his wife, writer Barbara Collins. They have collaborated on several novels and numerous short stories, and are currently writing the successful “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mysteries. Their son Nathan translates Japanese into English with a number of novels and video games among his credits.

Check out all the latest news at Max’s website

Follow Max on Twitter

Connect with Max on Facebook

“Fiction is largely the process of writers solving problems of their own creation.”

Cover image of the book 'Girl Can't help It' by author Mx Allan Collins

FIRST LINES

“Murder was the last thing on her mind. Really, it hadn’t even been on her mind at all.”

All of you ‘First Page Browsers’, can check out a longer opening extract, posted as part of my ‘Book Beginnings On Friday‘ meme.

Cover image of the book 'Girl Can't help It' by author Mx Allan Collins

MEMORABLE LINES 

“Krista worked up her best smile, public servant that she was, used to dealing with unreasonable citizens.”

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“Somehow a group of middle-aged men had transformed themselves into the immature kids they’d been back in their college days.”

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“She shook her head. ‘We may be a small town, Detective Jackson, but we can walk and chew gum at the same time.'”

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“One day you’re breaking hearts, and then you blink and it’s decades gone and your heart attacks you.”

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“Seeing him with Mom in his eyes and no sadness there at all. Maybe that was why  everybody liked nostalgia. It was the past with only the good parts left in.”

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“The here and now is shaped by the back then..”

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“The dead paid and the living are paying now. Let Brian hold on to his high opinion of his father, if you can. What harm does it do?”

You can check out a full length, single teaser extract, in my ‘Teaser Tuesday‘ meme

Cover image of the book 'Girl Can't help It' by author Mx Allan Collins

REVIEW

“Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll”

Okay! so this is book #2 in the ‘Krista Larsen’ series, however for those of you who tend to dip in and out of a series, it works just fine as a stand alone story. Yes, there is an ongoing backstory which runs through both books, however the author does a good job at weaving the pertinent, need to know details into the narrative, so that you don’t feel as though you are being left out of anything!

This story is an interesting mix of plot versus characters – but if you were to ask me if one prevailed markedly over the other, I would probably say, “no, not noticeably!”

More mystery than thriller; more small-town cozy than hardcore city crime; detailed police procedural, definitely not – but still murder nonetheless!

Don’t they always say that it is easier to write what you know about? Well! this author has enjoyed such a successful, long and varied career, that there was probably only one place  left for him to go with that statement, and that would be to reflect and indulge a little in his passion for rock ‘n’ roll music, which he does most eloquently and knowledgeably in this book. You therefore do need to be prepared for some quite detailed narrative about the subject, where and when it is relevant, although Max has achieved such seamless results by blending fact with fiction, that I never lost interest in the storyline from that perspective.

The storyline and motive isn’t overly complicated, although that is predominantly because certain segments of the narrative are written from the perspective of the perpetrator, which could have become rather messy and confusing, but in reality were skilfully written, worked really well and only added to the intrigue. So in effect I knew the how, why and when of all the crimes, just not the who! I had a list with three suspects on it, however one of them became a victim and my other two choices were proved to be innocent, so I definitely wouldn’t have been much help for Krista, in solving the case! As it was, the guilty suspect gave themselves away, but not until the very last moment and I still never saw it coming until it hit me in the face. The final showdown maybe wasn’t quite so much of a surprise and was probably the most suitable and inevitable outcome in the circumstances, making for a definitive ending, following a good strong opening sequence, with some sound focused storyline content.

The mechanics of the police procedures which would undoubtedly be involved in such a complex series of unexplained deaths, are unfortunately not dealt with in quite so much detail. However this kind of reflects the authenticity and reality of the position of the City of Galena, one of the so named Quad Cities. It seems as though there are such limited resources, needing to be drawn with cooperation, from so many different cities, that for a Police Chief in Krista’s position, coordinating and commanding a serious potential murder investigation in-house, is almost impossible. So in that respect Max has stayed true to reality, which although that doesn’t make it quite so satisfying for us fiction crime addicts, who enjoy the complexities of the investigation and the pace of the action and storyline is definitely more sedentary, there is plenty of opportunity for immersing the reader in the whole experience, with some visually good and observationally detailed, descriptive writing, evoking a real sense of time and place. I felt as though I could have been there, in the city, knowing my way around the place and a neutral observer and bystander to the action.

There were a whole raft of characters involved in this complex story of revenge, betrayal and blackmail, some of whom I liked, a number of which I took an instant dislike to, with the rest probably being those whom I loved to hate! Not many of them came across as genuine, caring individuals, who were particularly engaging and there were plenty of sharp, edgy dialogue exchanges. There was also plenty of self-centred ego flying around the place, which made interaction between individual characters very difficult, not very open and certainly not very truthful, but to be honest was pretty much expected given the nature of the storyline.

If anything, I enjoyed this book more than the first, as Keith and Krista are beginning to resonate and grow on me, with Max starting to transform and develop the dynamics between them, giving both their personal and working relationships some genuine depth and engagement with me, the reader. I would also like to see the character of Detective Booker Jackson develop in his role alongside Krista, as they have the potential to make a great team in the future, especially if Keith does take on more of a consultancy role, as right now he is still searching for a sense of belonging, a state which will no doubt evolve and change as Krista finds her feet in her new role and Keith feels emotionally able to take his own life in a new direction.

This is definitely a series with real potential to go places and one which would probably lend itself quite nicely to a television series!

Alternative Image Of Author Max Allan Collins

A complimentary download of this book, was kindly made available by the author and supplied by NetGalley

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!

Cover image of the book 'Girl Can't help It' by author Mx Allan Collins

 

 

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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