As the weather continues to improve I'll be casting about looking for that perfect deck/beach/park book. Something funny and engaging enough to wile away an afternoon. Hit and Mrs by Lesley Crewe may be just the thing.
Four life long friends treat themselves to a weekend in New York City compliments of a philandering husband. Linda, Bette, Augusta and Gemma are turning fifty and console themselves with this trip of a lifetime. Their overly dependent families make a huge fuss and the women must extricate themselves as best they can. Things begin to go horribly wrong with a bag mix-up at LaGuardia. Some very bad people want the contents of that bag and will stop at nothing. Despite their attempts to report to the police a "kidnapping, mugging, sudden-death, car theft sort of thing" they find themselves dragged deep into the criminal underworld.
The novel's characters are more types than fully fleshed out individuals. The older women are oh so good, self-sacrificing and under-appreciated. The young people are, as young people tend to be, self absorbed and demanding. For me the highlight of the novel was Bette's dramatic and bickering parents. "You want I should keel over on the floor when you're gone? You'd deny a dying woman her pills. Oy, the pain, the shame of it." The thoroughly unlikable floozy who ran off with Linda's husband was not overly convincing. "Rubbish" she says at one point and "Stuart is well rid of you". A proper floozy would use stronger language.
In an email interview Crewe describes Hit and Mrs as a "tub book". She says that when she is in writing mode, she writes for 18 hours a day for a 2 month stretch. The plot has that kind of fast paced intensity. It's the kind of story you can easily see play out on screen.
Having read Hit and Mrs before deck season properly begins, these next books may be in my future.
Bandit Queen Boogie: a madcap caper of two accidental criminals by Sparkle Hayter
"A LITTLE ITALY, A LITTLE FRANCE, A LITTLE CRIME, A LITTLE ROMANCE. Meet Blackie and Chloe, two best friends who decide, over tequila shots at the campus bar, to spend the summer after graduation backpacking through Europe. Blackie wants to go a little crazy—drink, smoke, flirt, meet men, have a romance or two. Chloe wants to nurse her broken heart and bury her nose in a book. One is dark and boisterous, the other blond and quiet. Together, they are an irresistible combination to men . . . married men, to be exact. The girls upgrade their accommodations from hostels to hotels when they let the men who’ve been wrecking their trip finance their fun. Accepting these cheaters’ invitations to their hotel suites, Blackie and Chloe beat them at their own game and make off with cash and whatever valuables are at hand while the men sleep it off. It’s the perfect crime (no married man would want to explain why he had two young coeds in his hotel room, now would he?) until they hit the wrong mark in Monte Carlo." - catalogue
The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again by Nancy Thayer
"The fabulous women fromThe Hot Flash Club are back in top form, welcoming the stressed-out and pampering-deprived through their discreet spa doors–as Nancy Thayer returns with a witty, sexy, and heartwarming novel.The Hot Flash ClubStrikes Again also introduces four new women, ready for massages and seaweed wraps, each struggling to reconcile her secret dreams, biggest fears, and deepest feelings as topsy-turvy events shake up her life....For Polly, Beth, Carolyn, and Julia, the time has come to stand up for what matters–for their passions, their hearts, and themselves. As they maneuver through family drama and embrace unexpected change, they come to find that life is much easier (and a lot more fun) when you’ve got friends, wine, and chocolate along for the ride." - catalogue