Go to Homepage   Lynne Murray: Large Target

  Crescent Blues Book Views

One moon gifSt. Martin's Minotaur (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-25456-3
I am a large woman (read fat, obese, overweight, etc.). You might wonder why this plays a role in my review. Well, because Lynne Murray chooses to use a woman of size (don't ya' just love that euphemism for fat?) for her heroine in Large Target, I can particularly relate to the story. Murray insists that Josephine (Jo) Fuller accepts her size without regret. But the book gives the lie to that assertion. 

Book: Lynne Murray, Large TargetJo investigates grant requests for a wealthy philanthropist. Jo bears the responsibility of recommending -- or not recommending -- the donation of funds to various causes. Jo states that her large size helps in her job because people tend to ignore her. As a large woman myself, I find this hard to believe. People notice me, as they would Jo, because we look different from the other people standing around. Our difference makes people remember us. When you literally take up a lot of space people notice. 

Ostensibly assigned to investigate a grief support organization, Jo discovers her real assignment consists of investigating Amy, a volunteer at the organization and the estranged daughter of one of the philanthropist's old friends. The course of the investigation sweeps Jo up into a murder and kidnapping fiasco.  

Book: Lynne Murray, Larger Than DeathTo most of those associated with this fiasco, Jo represents a person on the fringes of the events. Jo lacks a plausible reason to be involved in the subsequent criminal investigation, but everyone accepts without question Jo's right to interrogate them. They never balk at her pointed questions. I find it particularly hard to swallow this part of the novel. Generally, an investigator possesses a deep interest in the mystery, or at least a compelling reason for involvement. Besides checking out Amy -- something Jo accomplishes fairly easily -- Murray never provides a valid reason for Jo's continued involvement in the ensuing mystery.  

Further inconsistencies sour the story. For example:

  • A particularly unappealing character starts her life in the book with the name "Margaret Mead" (no relation to the famous anthropologist, Margaret Meade). Later in this reviewer's copy, the character's name inexplicably changes to "Martha Mead."
  • The narrative repeatedly makes references to the Vietnam War, but the references don't lead anywhere. In addition, there appears to be some confusion about when the war happened. Amy's husband acts like a man in his thirties, but he claims to have served in Vietnam, which would put him somewhere in his fifties.  
  • The previous holder of Jo's job shows up to meander around, then fizzle away. The inclusion of Jo's predecessor demonstrates Jo's insecurity and chips away at the weak foundation of self-acceptance established at the beginning of the novel. 

I suppose fizzle best describes the entire story. The investigation fizzles, the haphazardly portrayed romance fizzles, and basically, Jo fizzles. Even with such a potentially powerful character, the whole thing just sort of lies there, bereft of sparkle and life. 

Heather Firth

Click here to share your views.