Hand In Glove by Anne Stuart
Well, I had a migraine on Sunday night. I think it was a combo of weather and being dehydrated (I kept playing with my new espresso machine for drinks so that's on me). So I'm a bit later than I meant to be.
I've been taking the CGRP medication for at least a year. It's radically changed my migraines. I'm in less pain -- I even have days where there's no pain! -- but they wear off after 25 days, so I'm taking them every 27 days instead of 31. I still get the other side effects at the same level. So the pain is less (like,it'll go away with OTC pills) but the other stuff is at the same high level. So sometimes when it hits like a freight truck, I just gotta chill on the couch so I don't walk into a wall. Depth perception going wacky is a side effect for me. Guess how many times I've broken a toe?
This book, I first read on my Kindle. I liked it enough to buy a physical copy and at the time (I'm still not sure if Stuart has republished this beyond the e-book availability) the copy below was available. Aren't I so lucky to get a random sticker that won't come off in the middle of the cover? Who does that? Do you see the puppets? This was kinda when I fell in love with Anne Stuart. She took a puppet backstory and made me enthralled.
Title: Hand in Glove
Author: Anne Stuart
Page Number: 253 (paperback)
Genre: fiction, romance, suspense
Judith Daniels knew that her friend, Lacey, feared for her life. And when Lacey died suddenly, Judith was convinced that her death had not been an accident. Desperate to learn the truth, she applied for Lacey's job at Ryan Smith's puppet factory.
Her task proved difficult. The voices behind the puppets were cleverly disguised. So were the people involved, for each one - like Judith herself - seemed to have something to hide. Even Ryan Smith, the creative genius of the group, was deliberately evasive.
Then it was Judith's turn to fear for her own life....
The two main characters are Judith Daniels and Ryan Smith. Judith is mourning her friend, Lacey, who worked for Ryan Smith at a his puppet factory. I think the description makes it sound like Ryan is making puppets but it's more like Seasme Street...it's a puppet show empire (housed at a building called "The Factory"). His employees tend to be fellow puppeteers who create voices and scenes for him. Judith works in the administration side.
I think Anne Stuart's website has a better book description than Goodreads so I'm going to include it as well:
The story takes place mostly at the Puppet Factory (where the make the show and store the puppets), Judith's temporary house and Ryan's house.
Also of note, this book is set in (and was published in the 1980s). I thought this was fun personally because it's contemporary to the time in all the actions (music, food, technology). Sure, in modern day Judith would have to do a lot more to go "undercover" so it might appear flimsy plot wise (like not show up in a vintage Mercedes). It worked for me. Judith is also a columnist for a larger paper (Again, 1980s paper with syndication) who can take a longer leave of absence from her job.
Sure, the plot isn't as tight as Stuart normally creates (Judith is kinda a mechanic wunderkind, Bryn Mawr graduate but hopeless at being suave. And, as a detective she's a bit out of her league (snooping fairly obviously). Her detective work is mostly unsophisticated--relying on luck, her loquacious roommate and the murderer being messy.
I think if you can just enjoy the story (ignore the slightly 1980s sexual harassment masked as romance---it's in a lot of older romance books, although it's not too bad here) and not get tripped up by Judith's inadequate sleuthing or Ryan's unsentimental overtures. I will say that Ryan pulls it together closer to the end and becomes more of a romance figure (he's presented as "mysterious" in the first half). and Judith gives up on being sneaky. Also of note, Ryan isn't one of the colder heros that Stuart can write, he's pretty normal and chill. He's kinda to his employees and friends.
The writing and the plot itself is truly engaging and fun. I wouldn't think that reading about puppets (and the mystery therein) could be thrilling but it really was. It was a great re-read because I think this book (like a lot of Stuart's writing) is escapist. I saw some of the people having meltdowns about this on goodreads, but I think they got caught up on the puppets (when are you going to read a book with puppets?) and the 1980s aspect of setting (when it was you know...published?). A reoccurring complaint is that Judith was listening to Phil Collins. Oh, ok then. *all the eye rolls*
Sometimes Goodreads is a mess. That being said, read the free chapter excerpt from Kindle (if possible) to know if this is the book for you. I don't think it was bad (I rated it four stars) and the Phil Collins/Puppets don't bug me. Granted, I read a lot so in the scheme of things I've read some real clunkers so I find people's reasons (seriously, I can't get over Phil Collins being a reason to be upset? He was super big in the 1980s and even 1990s!) hilarious. I'll stop writing about them now.
I actually think this would be a decent movie (even a TV movie). It has the mystery, the romance, the fun side characters. Also, nothing against the older cover but I prefer the newer cover below (it's the one on my e-book as well). I think Ryan is a great character and I even like Judith--even with her mix of bad sleuthing and "coolness."
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