I found myself bookless, and in my despiration I went to the only place I can walk to for books- the Duane Reade at the corner. They have a little shelf near the checkout counter with a selection of about five or six pulp bestsellers. Not exactly a bastion of high literature, but sometimes I have no choice. I grab a thriller or murder mystery and hope I’ll be able to read it through to the end.
Last night’s pick was “Cruel Intent”, by one J.A. Jance. A wretched book in just about every way possible, one even I in my boredom couldn’t get through.
And so, to Bulwer-Lytton. I think Ms. Jance must have been gunning for a prize from that illustrious contest. That’s the only way I can explain the first sentence of the first chapter in Cruel Intent:
I kid you not. That really is the opening sentence/paragraph of Chapter One. The only thing that could have made it more Bulwer-Lyttonque would have been if it opened the book, instead of the bland, disjointed prologue. Her OP is perfect in its transcendant dreadfulness, like the movies of Ed Wood.
The sad thing is, there’s a spark of talent hidden in the depths of J.A. Jance. There’s a scene near the end where the protagonist’s grey-haired old mother cooly bluffs the serial killer into coming close enough to be Tased. It shines through Jance’s clunky typewriting in a pure burst of awesome. I only wish that someone would teach her to write. I personally feel that her work would benifit tremendously if her editor went back for another year of junior high school.