Bomber Jacket, Black Butter-Leather, James Dean?
(Friday, March 31, 2006)
Reviewer: Linda G. Shelnutt
In CCCM, Hannah steps off the page with her second-hand bomber jacket in primary sensual focus, briefly hinting of the leather-scent-significance of a tough-but-wounded James Dean type rebel... who blows her cover by nurturing friends and family at every turn of subplot with freshly baked cookies. This novel reads with a deeper, more serious & sensual style than the other Hannah offerings (I like both styles, and the way they evolved, and I’m definitely itching to get my hands on the latest hardback). To know the early Hannah, before she ironically became so popular as a cozy mystery diva: To know the precise ways Hannah became seated snugly into two romantic interests who amazingly and believably tolerate each other in a genuinely friendly manner: To see how Hannah began her amateur sleuthing by helping her brother-in-law earn his detective wings: Read or reread this pilot. Hannah seemed to be a more complex character in this first book than in the later 4 offerings I read first. Her depth in CCCM seemed to emanate from an undercurrent of being wounded in a childhood with a fluky mother who was sunny or dark in inexplicably instant transitions. Hannah’s depth also seemed to emanate from an embarrassing, betrayed intimacy with a married professor, and from her having been too Einstein-ish to be popular as a girl. Bill’s respect for Hannah’s intelligence, and his wisdom and security as a male policeman (with no detective experience), work together in an endearing way as he asks for Hannah’s help solving a murder, as he works with her humbly, not as an equal, but as her assistant. This arrangement is strangely believable, even though it may seem rare for a man in Bill’s position to set up this situation. In the novel’s resolution, Hannah didn’t get full credit for what she had done, except privately from Bill and those who were in on it. For me, this “hidden agenda” added cream-cheese frosting on the cake of Hannah’s mystique as a leavened, spiced, and brightened James Dean, butter-leather, black Bomber Jacket Persona. That rebel/outcast persona quickly dissolved as the series progressed. It didn’t have a chance under the chocolate-chip, bitter-sweetness of Hannah’s ongoing Cookie Jar business her entertaining, satisfyingly developing relationships with Mike and Norman and the deepening of a complex intimacy with just the right amount of snarly conflict, between Hannah and her family and friends.