Jessica James is always bucking the system, doing her best to stand out from the crowd in the male-dominated discipline of philosophy. As a PhD candidate it’s her misfortune to have a lecherous mysogonist as her thesis advisor. Working for Professor Schmutzig is tatamount to being at war in the trenches. Every. Day. The enemy? Her boss, old Schmutzig himself. Contributing to her tenuous situation are her deplorable living conditions. Jessica lives in an attic with no bed or bath and the little sleep she gets is on top of an old desk. Oh my aching back! One saving grace is her three besties, Lolita, often referred to as “the Russian Tsarina”, Amber, a new-age, hippie-dippie dreamer type who has a holistic remedy for whatever ails you and Jack whose smart mouth is constantly at odds with his weed-impaired brain. When Jessica finds the Professor lying dead in his office she’s frantic to retrieve her rejected thesis, fearing it will be seen as a motive for his murder. She’s damned if she’ll return to Montana without the PhD she’s worked so hard for. If she’s a suspect then her only solution is to take the heat off herself by finding out who killed Schmutzig.
Well. There’s so much going on in Kelly Oliver’s “Wolf” the first book in her Jessica James Mysteries series, that it’s hard to encapsulate all the action. The four or five plotlines woven throughout this book make for a staggering cast of characters to keep all the parts moving in sync. While I can admire the feat and the dedication it obviously required, I felt overwhelmed at all the goings on. Our protagonist’s brilliant mind is overshadowed by her klutziness. She’s an accident looking for a place to happen and her personal grooming habits are deplorable. I can’t imagine anyone other than a homeless person going so many days without bathing or taking a shower. Jessica gives new meaning to the term “the great unwashed”. The amount of cologne required to mask the B.O. would surely set off alarm bells to anyone in close proximity. Ewww!
I do take issue with some of author Kelly Oliver’s vocabulary, i.e. the correct plural of “knife” is “knives” and she should know the difference between a “hypotenuse” and a “hypothesis”, “unconscious” and “subconscious”, “duct-tape” not “duck-tape” (why would anyone tape up a duck?). Typos are an annoyance to the reader but I doubt these are mere typos, rather a case of someone not bothering to ensure they’ve got the right word to convey the intended message. When in doubt, look it up. Otherwise you are in danger of insulting your readers. Three and a half stars.
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