Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sun Sentinel Review

Many, many thanks to Oline Cogdill of the South Florida Sun Sentinel for her review of A BAD DAY FOR SORRY.


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By Oline H. Cogdill
Sun-Sentinel Mystery Fiction Columnist
A Bad Day for Sorry. Sophie Littlefield . Minotaur. $24.95. 288 pp.
In her debut novel, Sophie Littlefield shows considerable skills for delving into the depths of her characters and complex plotting as she disarms the reader.
On the surface and as the title implies, A Bad Day for Sorry seems to be a quirky, cozy tale about a middle-aged Missouri woman who dabbles in helping abused women. With wry humor and a penchant for rural sayings, Stella Hardesty exudes sassiness.
But Littlefield quickly spins this premise into a more hard-edge look at domestic violence, vigilante justice, life’s regrets and taking control of your life.
While the author keeps a sense of humor flowing through her novel, she doesn’t sacrifice plot or realism for a joke. One could call Stella “sassy,” but it would be better to call her relentless, capable and perceptive. She’s no super-hero, but what she does in her “justice-delivering career” is both heroic and illegal.
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The fiftysomething Stella lives in the fictional Prosper, Mo., which seems to be located somewhere in the western part of the Show Me State. A widow who is estranged from her only daughter, Stella operates a sewing shop that she inherited from her late, abusive husband -- whose demise she had a hand in.
A marriage filled with assaults and verbal humiliation has made Stella determined to help other women “whose worst sins were bad judgment and displaced loyalty.” And this “sideline” includes making sure the abusive men get a taste of what they’ve been meting out, even if that means some light bondage or heavy “whuppin’.”
Stella’s latest case takes a turn she hadn’t expected. She thought she had taught Chrissy Shaw’s no-good husband Roy Dean all he needed to know. Then Roy disappears, taking Chrissy’s two-year-old son with him.
But this may not be Roy’s way of getting back at Chrissy. Roy may be involved with local mobsters dealing in stolen auto parts.
Stella stopped being a victim years ago; now Chrissy must make the same transformation if the two of them are to find the child.
Littlefield keeps the plot churning with realistic action that doesn’t let up. She also allows the moral ambiguity of vigilante justice to enhance this story. The author taps into the growing frustration that courts and laws often can’t stop domestic violence. Therefore, one can root that an abuser is being taught a lesson, even if the way isn’t legal. Littlefield makes Stella’s campaign understandable while not glorifying her methods.
A Bad Day for Sorry’s characters are believable. Stella’s maturation to avenger rings true as does her lifetime of regrets. Her crush on the local sheriff also feels authentic as do his mutual feelings; of course, both are too stubborn to let the other know their heart’s desires.
Littlefield’s exciting debut should be the start of an even more exciting series. 

2 comments:

Martha Flynn said...

Squeeeeeee! I am in the most literal sense of the word tickled for you!!!

DebraLSchubert said...

Sophie, I found you via the very bitter Janet Reid. I feel bad for her. She's kind of a mess over this whole thing. Looks like she has reason to be vinegary. After all, the evil Barbara Poelle (who I met at BEA and think is AMAZING, btw!) managed to scoop you up.

Best wishes for your ongoing success with A BAD DAY FOR SORRY. I'll be picking it up on my next (frequent) trip to Borders.

I'm also following you on Twitter now.;-)