Top critical review
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on December 9, 2009
"Divine Misdemeanors" completely missed its original due date, and only barely scraped by the second. Huge chunks were torn out and replaced.
So it's no surprise that the eighth book in the fairy-porn Merry Gentry series is a trainwreck of a novel. Laurell K. Hamilton does make a valiant attempt to structure the book as a murder mystery, but unfortunately the mystery is a limp whodunnit where the who is glaringly obvious -- and it gets bogged down in magical sex, fairy politicking and whiny arguments between Merry's various boytoys.
Merry gets called out to handle a bizarre serial killing, in which the demi-fey have been murdered and arranged to resemble a child's picture book. And when Merry, Frost and Doyle investigate a local fey coffee shop, they find themselves involved with a crazed demi-fey and a fairy godmother (think Glinda on crack). Then the plot stops.
Instead, we're treated to more of Merry's superpowers -- she goes sauntering over to the Middle East and heals troops in the Black Coach, she creates a new Los Angeles sithen by having sex with Rhys, and she magically fixes shattered minds. And humans who have been near her are developing healing powers -- apparently she's sooooooo amazing that just being around her gives you a power-up.
Unfortunately it turns out that her vast harem of hairy pretty-boys isn't getting along too well. And of course the half-forgotten serial killer is still running amuck, murdering brownies and demi-fey and arranging them to look like pictures -- and it turns out that Merry's Magical Netherbits might be the perfect bait.
I'll give credit where credit is due: after seven books of glowy sparkly fairy porn, Hamilton did try hard to write an actual mystery... but sadly, it's a terrible mystery. It consists of Merry strutting from crime scene to crime scene until somebody wanders in and TELLS her the bad guy's identity. In the meantime, she spends most of her time contemplating clothes, hair, coffee, cupcakes, paparazzi, parking, and her woes with heeled sandals.
In fact, the entire mystery takes a backseat to the awesomeness of Merry's magical sex organs and the sparkly superpowers that emanate from them, as well as the seemingly endless conversations and bickering amongst her vast harem of interchangeable prettyboys. And her dialogue tends swing between fluffy ("There's a lot of bad crazy in my family tree") and painfully stilted ("and the power will rise between us and it will be good"). Throw in a jab or two at J.R.R. Tolkien, and you've got the picture.
Merry has yet to develop a personality beyond that of a fairy Paris Hilton: she just sort of drifts around a McMansion, having sex and producing sparkly superpowers by the dozen (which, of course, come as a huge shock to even the oldest of the fey). And of course, she's so irresistible that even gay men practically slobber when they're near her, and so powerful that she goes sailing into the Middle East to save our soldiers.
Her harem is more faceless than ever -- dozens of interchangeable men who are identifiable only by hair/skin color, and Merry claims to love them all. While there are some token efforts to develop them (the revelation that her lovers have all had families), all are quickly forgotten. The only one who stands out is Barinthus, who dares to criticize Merry's idiotic decisions and is quickly dismissed as a big arrogant jerk.
"Divine Misdemeanors" tries hard to be a murder mystery, but ends up half-forgotten behind a giant seething mass of bickering boytoys and fairy sex. It's better than most of the series, but no cigar.