Mavis Seidlitz is just not a heroine appropriate for celebrating strong and independent women. She's supposed to be an equal partner in the Rio Investigations detective agency, but this "partnership" is a bit odd. You see, It is entirely normal for her partner Johnny Rio to throw an appointment book at her for being late, orders her around to bring him drinks (needless to say without "please" and/or "thank you"), and - worse of all - solves the case for her because she is too incompetent and dumb enough to drown in the rain.
Annoying and sometimes pretty nasty. Towards the end there's a scene in which Johnny shoots (pretty much in cold blood) a suspect and this is the exchange that follows between our duo of partners:
"Tell me something, Johnny" I said. "When you shot at Marian Stern, did you mean to kill her?
He thought about it for a moment. "I don't think so, Mavis," he said finally. "I wanted to make sure I stopped her shooting Rafael - I think there's a difference somewhere. Why?"
"Just for future reference," I said. "Otherwise I wouldn't feel safe when you got mad at me."
Partnership? Looks more like some kind of abusive and dysfunctional relationship to me.
I wanted to like this and had hoped that Mr Brown would have toned down his male chauvinistic crap at least when his hero is a female. But instead of satirizing the stereotypes, he uses them for his leading character (non) development. Too bad. Can't really say I was shocked, more like disappointed.
Other than that, the novel is surprisingly O.K. It does take several chapters to get into its goofy sense of humour but then it is genuinely funny. Especially the first half in which Mavis and Rafael run around like Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant trying to dispose of the corpse with every attempt more silly than the previous one.
This gag becomes a bit too repetitive and eventually wears off. But still, there are other things to enjoy. The supporting cast is pretty colourful, and I liked the dictator's spoiled son Arturo a.k.a. "The Fabulous" and beatnik Terry with his incomprehensible ramblings. Dig this jive: