It's not often that a book leaves me stumped. One or two books have, and now I have to include Alison Wonderland by Helen Smith. I'm not sure what I just read. The description on the back of the book seems totally different from what's inside.
London-based Alison Temple hires an all-female detective agency to follow her husband. She suspects he's cheating, but doesn't want to leave without proof.
"I didn't want to leave him over a suspicion, but I didn't want to stay. I waited for a sign, something that would settle the matter for me."
She has the feeling that something is wrong, but without concrete proof is it right for Alison to leave? When she finally gets the proof, Alison makes sure to cut her ties in a rather obscene way. She paints a little message on her wedding dress. I can't repeat the message, but I found it rather FUNNY. Maybe not everyone will find it funny, but to each his own. Alison decides to work for the Fitzgerald Bureau of Investigation -- the agency that investigated her husband. Instead of Alison Temple, she is now Alison Wonderland. She's no longer waiting for Mr. Wonderful, but she has no problem taking his name. Her boss, Mrs. Fitzgerald, has a father eccentric brother Clive. Mix all those elements together, and you have what sounded like a great concept to me. The opportunities for hilarity should be plenty.
But a few chapters in I was kind of wondering, "What am I reading?" The first few cases seem very normal, but then they drift into the bizarre. Alison befriends the wacky Taron, who hires her to find out where babies are abandoned. I thought, "HUH?!?!?!" Taron sounded like a baby snatcher in the making. Run away Alison, run away !!!
Project Brown Dog -- a new top-secret case at the agency threatens everything. I'm not sure if I understood everything about the case, but this is what I took from. A company is doing illegal testing on animals, and Alison is trying to figure out why. A misunderstanding leads to this company digging up dirt on Taron's friends instead of Alison.
Sometimes it seemed like there were two books going on instead of one. On the one hand you have this complicated case, and then you have Taron and Alison going a Thelma and Louise-type trip. Except that trip lacked the murder and cops hot on their tail. Their friendship is funny and quirky at the same time. Overall, I had a hard time keeping up with the plot. Perhaps I don't read enough books by British authors. I've read two or three, and there have been times when I just don't get their sense of humor. In time I'm sure I could.
Rating: I'm in between on this one. It wasn't all bad, but it just wasn't for me. So I have to go off track with normal rating system and call it: Eccentric!!
Note: I received a copy of the book from the author's publicist (Little Bird Publicity) in exchange for an honest review.