|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Monday, January 23, 2006 |
( 1/23/2006 11:03:00 AM ) Bill S.
IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR . . . – I'm two-thirds into a Marcia Muller mystery, Listen to the Silence, and, in it, Muller's detective heroine Sharon McCone has learned she was adopted. She subsequently tries to track down her bio parents. This she does, of course, but before she can even meet her mother, the woman is put into a coma by a hit-and-run. Our heroine investigates what turns out to be an attempted murder, hooking up with a half-sister who almost instantly recognizes her as blood kin.
So Saturday night, we watch an episode of Hallmark Channel's Mystery Woman. In it, Kellie Martin' mystery bookstore owner Samantha Kinsey learns she, too, was adopted and subsequently tracks down her mother. Her attempt at reuniting with her bio mom is complicated by the fact that when she drives up to the woman’s home, there's a dead man on the premises. Ma's the prime suspect, of course, so Sam is forced to identify the real culprit. This she does without either her half-sister or her mom's second husband once asking, "Why you here again?" It isn't 'til the final twenty minutes of the two-hour tele-movie that Sam reveals her family connection; not even the local cops think to ask who this nosy out-of-towner is.
Consider both story set-ups, and you have the difference between solid genre writing that keeps an eye cocked on all of its characters – and solipsistic short-cutting that acts as if the only figure with any sense or curiosity in the story is the title lead. It's the difference between professional mystery craftwork and lazy authorial negligence, and I suspect it's a distinction that mystery lover Samantha Kinsey would readily recognize . . .