My friend Frank Calcagno wrote a book. Actually he wrote three, but who’s counting? (Apparently he’s up to four, darn him.) The fact he wrote them while working full-time, raising a family, and generally being an all-around nice guy means we will try not to hate him. Did I mention his daughter got married last summer? I don’t, hate him that is. I do however, admire his work ethic. I would like to be disciplined enough to write books the way he does. But I digress.
Frank’s latest book is Murder at Midnight . . . On a Sailboat. It is billed as a comedic mystery; a romance; and a beach read. It is none of these. Trust me, I asked my mom and she agrees. The book, sadly, isn’t selling well. I’m thinking the billing has quite a lot to do with it, and have been left with a lot of questions as to how genres are defined.
Yes, there is a beach. The story takes place on a lovely island no one has ever heard of and certainly doesn’t remember the name of.
Yes, there is a mystery. The story includes a dead body – sort of – and an attempt to discover the manner of death.
Yes, there is a romance. The protagonists of the story are on their honeymoon.
No, this is not a [insert name of favorite beach read author here] beach read. Admittedly I am not much of a beach girl (too fair skinned) but my vacation reads tend towards Suzanne Brockmann, Vicki Lewis Thompson, and Allison Brennan. I think that means I’m not really qualified to judge a beach read. Let’s just leave it as I know it when I see it.
No, there is not a great denouement where the detective solves the murder and exposes the crime.
No, there is a not a great romance where the hero and heroine experience a great change that brings them closer together. They are on their honeymoon, and there is a great telling of the back story. Torture of characters, not so much. (You do remember from above that I’m a Brockmann fan, right? No one does torture of characters like she does.)
So what is it? As an ebook there is no back cover copy. The Smashwords description says:
Norman and Kathy see their dream honeymoon turn into a nightmare on a resort filled with incompetent staff. Trying to salvage something worthwhile out of their dismal trip, they sign up for a murder mystery cruise on a small Italian yacht. After all, how could things get any worse? Join Norman and Kathy as they set sail with an odd set of fellow vacationers on a wild romp through the Caribbean.
What this is is a good story with great characters. The description is accurate – there are an odd set of vacationers in this book. They are all well-developed and fun to read. This is the vacation no one wants to have. In a way it is like a train wreck: you just can’t look away.
Is it a comedy? Yes, I’ll give the cover copy that. There are some truly funny moments as Norman and Kathy try to navigate the disaster of a honeymoon and the start of their new life together.
It is the story of growth and change and melding two lives and two families together. With a devious urchin thrown in for excitement. Norman and Kathy don’t always get what they want. But then again, who does?
Frank usually writes science fiction / young adult. This is a foray into something new and different. The chance to see an author explore something new to them is what makes this book so interesting.
Is this book going to make best reads of the year lists? Sadly, no. It is going to make the list of things I’m proud of my friends for? You bet.
Readers, what do you consider a beach read? Have you ever been disappointed because a book’s back cover copy doesn’t truly represent the story? Why is genre such an important aspect of marketing?
Toni is an historian and published technical writer who is slowly venturing into the blogosphere with thought-provoking reviews on romance and mysteries. One day she hopes she will be able to turn her attention to writing the Great American Novel. Toni lives with the most spoiled cat on the planet (Lincoln) and his sister (Abby) in a house filled with wine, chocolate, and, of course, books.