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My Least Favourite So Far
Ten Little Bloodhounds
Virginia Lanier
Jo Beth is starting to get on my nerves -- she doesn't seem to realise just how closely her own surface personality resembles that of the rich old lady she doesn't like (but whose cat she finds, anyway).

I have enjoyed this series up till now, and i liked this one enough to go on to the next one (assuming there is one), but some things just don't wear well -- the way in which all the Good Ole Boys Jo Beth has to work with look upon her as rather amusing, somewhat uppity and a little dim when she tries to enlighten them (while undoubtedly true-to-life everywhere, and more so in the backwoods South -- and check my hometown before you send me "What do you know about it?" e-mails) is starting to sound like a broken record.

Jo Beth's running inability to relate easily with those around her -- even those she loves and respects -- is also getting old, and comes to a head in this book that almost had me ready to quit reading the series.

As usual, the "main" storyline is anything but -- the murder of the old lady is the book's selling point, but it's really secondary to the other storylines, crises and general hugger-mugger Jo Beth's life seems to abound with. Among the more interesting elements are a couple of searches for types of things Jo Beth has never asked her dogs to find before, some rather intense interaction with the denizens of the swamps, and a few nicely-drawn vignettes of the dogs in action.

But the unmasking of the old lady's murderer is both by-the-numbers drudge work not at all involving the dogs and not very interesting.

Add in a deus-ex-machina last-minute solution to major plot elements that comes out of left field, and you get the weakest entry in the series.

But still worth reading, if only for the bloodhounds, and for watching Jo Beth shoot down a couple of overbearing authority figures -- and because there *are* elements in this story that will forever change the future of Jo Beth, a couple of the other recurring characters and of the series overall.

I note at least one other reviewer complains about the copy-editing; i'd guess this book was proofed by spell-checker, because several places words in the text, while perfectly spelt, are simply the wrong words -- one that sticks in my head is "purpose" where "propose" is clearly meant. And someone who doesn't understand the rules of useage is responsible for putting "Jasmine and I" in at least one place where "Jasmine and me" would be correct.

Another complaint i have (which applies to the whole series) is that while Lanier lives in the South, she still misses subtlties of Southern speech -- several times, she has characters who say "you-all" (or however she's spelling it) when speaking to a single person. Not the way it usually works. There are a couple of other places where the speech patterns grate a bit.

All of that aside, this is a book that devotees of the series will want to read, no matter what, as it contains things they need to know. For people who haven't read any of the series, start at the beginning.