For Pete’s Sake
by Geri Buckley
(Berkley, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-425-20153-8
It pains me to give this book a lackluster review. Buckley has an engaging voice and has written eccentric, loveable characters. Unfortunately, she also gave her heroine all the ethics of Tammany Hall and fails to resolve the minor issue of a dead body.

Pietra “Pete” Lang is the sane member in a family of eccentric oddballs. Grandmother Lang has just passed on, and it’s up to Pete to coordinate her funeral, the annual July 4th festivities, and deal with her dysfunctional immediate family. There’s the older sister who changes men like socks; the mother who has had so many face-lifts her ears are about to meet; and the politician brother who plans to dump his wife and marry his podiatrist. As if that weren’t enough, Pete discovers a woman’s dead body in her Grandmother’s busted fish freezer. Looks as if Grandma bumped off one of Granddad’s floozies.

Into this insanity rides Atlanta divorce attorney Danny Benedict. As a favor to Grandmother Lang, Danny agrees to represent the politician in his divorce. He travels down to Florida to meet with him secretly, and immediately becomes intrigued with Pete. The two are soon burning up the sheets and arguing about what to do with the dead floozy.

Now this sounds like some southern-fried fun doesn’t it? And for the most part it is. Unfortunately the entire plot is a house of cards. Once the reader begins to question anything, the whole thing comes tumbling down.

Pete wants to cover up the dead body, but Dan insists they go to the authorities. Pete holds him off by calling a family conference. Naturally, the dysfunctional oddballs aren’t the least bit concerned, and drop the whole mess onto Pete for her to deal with. Dan still insists on going to the sheriff, and Pete just can’t understand why he would want to do that.

Hello?! It’s a dead body!

The dead body does offer plenty of opportunity for banter, with Pete and Dan exchanging plenty of witty repartee. Unfortunately, that alone does not make a romance. It’s a little hard to buy into a grand love affair when the story takes place in less than a week. It’s also hard to understand how a lawyer would hold off going to the cops for as long as Dan does. OK, sex can turn men completely stupid – but this total lack of professional ethics is hard to swallow.

I figure in fiction the author pretty much has free reign. The sky can be purple, cows can fly and raindrops can taste like gumdrops. However there are certain cardinal rules that must never be broken – one of which is Dead Bodies Must Be Dealt With.

Frankly a name would have been nice. Or better yet, a how and why this woman died. The author schleps off the motive by off-handedly saying that the woman was one of Granddad’s floozies and Grandma off’ed her. But when and how? And does this poor woman have a name? And sure it was adultery, but Granddad was so randy his pecker fell into half the female population in the county. Why kill this one? It’s never explained. The dead body is merely there to add eccentricity to the surroundings and give something for the hero and heroine to bicker over.

The whole thing is terribly disappointing. Buckley writes interesting characters, snappy dialogue, and good descriptive narratives. Unfortunately the author doesn’t quite go far enough with her plot and leaves the whole thing teetering precariously close to the cliff’s edge. If you’re in the mood for a silly, fast read, and are willing to not look too closely or question anything about the plot, For Pete’s Sake is just the ticket. It just requires you to throw reality totally out the window.

--Wendy Crutcher

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