The Last Two Bachelors

Mirror, Mirror

A Stranger is Watching

Roses After Midnight
by Linda Randall Wisdom
(Silh. Int. Mom. 1235, $4.75, PG) ISBN 0-373-27305-3
Women are living under the threat of a serial rapist dubbed Prince Charming because during his crime he attempts to be soothing to the victims by whispering sweet nothings. Further, he always leaves the victims a distinctive red rose. After an extensive investigation Detective Celeste Bradshaw and her partner Dylan Parker discover a common thread among the victims. They had all eaten at Dante’s Café during the week of the crime.

The story opens as Celeste and Dylan seek the help of Luc Dante, one of the owners of the upscale restaurant. Celeste wants to go undercover in the restaurant and persuades Luc that she can handle the job of bartender.

The story ambles on as Celeste meets the staff at the restaurant and the other two owners. Dante’s is renowned not only for its food and ambiance, but also as the place in town that offers a second chance to ex-convicts. Each of the owners, as well as the employees, has a questionable history.

Celeste works at watching for anything unusual to happen as well as trying to get fellow employees to talk. About what, it is hard to guess, since it seems certain they would not be confessing. The investigation at best is perfunctory and bordering on dull.

The thrust of the story is the romance between Luc and Celeste. She is of manor born, living off a trust fund but committed to being a cop. Luc was abandoned at birth by a teenage mother who was rumored to have made her living on the street. His background includes a sealed juvenile record hiding a significant number of crimes. He grew up as the “go to boy,” whenever any petty crime was committed becoming the cop’s first and usually only suspect. His dark side becomes a wearing contrast to Celeste’s ebullience.

Luc defines their relationship as one between a mongrel and a princess. A better description would be between a self-absorbed, whiny, morose male and an outgoing, charming, levelheaded female. Luc’s angst grows old rapidly.

One of the basic problems in this book is the difference in the characterization of males and females generally. Wisdom does a credible job creating all the women, however, all the men are flat, with all the spontaneity and depth of used cardboard.

This creates unevenness in the characters interaction that is hard to overlook. Additionally, the pacing is predictably plodding. If you are new to Linda Randall Wisdom, I would suggest starting with another one of her books.

--Thea Davis

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