Amateur Night

By Kathrine K. Beck Marris

Apparently, in Book 1 (which our library doesn’t have) Jane da Silva gets stuck with the detective agency of her rich, but dead uncle. Only if she fixes a really hopeless case, she’ll inherit the money. This book is about her second attempt.

  • Author: Kathrine K. Beck Marris
  • Title: Amateur Night
  • Pages: 279
  • Published: 1993
  • Publisher: The Mysterious Press
  • ISBN: 0-89296-480-4

K.K. Beck Marris is not popular, it seems. While I read a paper copy, a quick web-scan shows that her works are pretty exclusively e-published nowdays. That means the books are quite cheap, but whether that’s enough to garner sales…

The problem is, ‘Amateur Night’ is not really good. It’s moderately well-constructed, with passable prose, and a decent protagonist. However, even if you add everything up, you still end up several points short of ‘good enough’.

The plot centers around Jane da Silva, who has to prove worthy of her uncle’s inheritance by solving a hopeless case — i.e., getting a convicted murderer out of quod because he didn’t do it, even if everyone else thinks he did.

She selects the case of a certain Kevin, a junk who ran into a pharmacy with a gun, ran out without the gun and left a dead woman. Cleverly, he didn’t do it, but… No, that would be a spoiler.

The opening chapters are pedestrian; the rest of the plot develops with all the vim and vigor of a snail stuck in molasses. Nothing much happens, it seems, despite another murder and an attempted murder.

Almost every character is, in potentio, interesting and engaging, but they all fall flat on the floor, from the curious Art Deco tenement building owner to the artsy stripper.

In the end I started skipping, and skipping, and then skipping even hard, only backtracking from a misguided sense of duty. I certainly won’t check Kathrine’s work out again.