Publication Date: June 6, 2015
Source: Available from Amazon.
Length: 260 pages
Summary: When Southwest Florida crime-scene blogger Maggie Finn goes deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, a deadly catch plunges her into a sea of trouble.
Clues point to a marine park where she goes undercover, working as park guide in a shark costume. The cast of characters is one found only in Florida, at least in Maggie Finn’s kind of Florida. To complicate things even more, Maggie finds herself falling for a man who she suspects may be a murderer.
In a place where no one is who they appear to be, and nothing is what it seems on the surface, Maggie will have to keep her friends close and her enemies closer, if only she can figure out who is who, and untangle the web of deceit before she becomes the next victim! (Source: Amazon product description).
Short Version: Surprisingly light-hearted romp, with an endlessly entertaining protagonist.
Longer Version: I picked this one up on a whim, and I’m extremely glad I did. This is the second in the “Maggie Finn” series and I haven’t read the first, but after reading Entangled, that may soon change.
On its surface, Entangled follows the premise of a lot of crime novels: discover the crime, investigate the crime, mounting danger, denouement. That’s not to speak negatively about it; in terms of its structure and effect, it does everything I would expect a novel of this genre to do, and it does it seamlessly, without drawing attention to itself.
Beyond that, though, this book is really a one-woman character study as we’re taken through the story by sixty-year-old blogger Maggie Finn. As she observes very early in the book, part of her journalistic skill is down to her not being afraid to be very annoying, and the way she tirelessly badgers both police and civilians on her way to solving the crimes at hand rings true (I’m thinking of investigative trash-journalism like A Current Affair) and is a lot of fun to read. Her observations of those around her seems always on point and, most delightfully, she’s almost always honest about herself – I’ve read novels in the past that infuriated me with the female protagonist having little else to occupy her mind beyond shoes and lipstick, but Cosgrove strikes a nice balance here, with an ageing woman who is realistic about her appearance but smart as hell and confident in her personality. There’s an ongoing quest for strawberry pie that’s quite funny because Cosgrove doesn’t overdo it. (In turn, the reader also craves pie.) Her crush, as mentioned in the synopsis, is also handled well – unlike some characters I’ve read, Maggie expresses her interest, but does not instantly turn into a pile of infatuated, out-of-character mush.
Secondary characters are for the most part nicely portrayed, too. Of note is Rose Shelton, Maggie’s Friend on the Force (and, if my intuition is correct, also her girl-crush). Their dialogue bounces beautifully:
“You say civilians like my granddaughter says Muggles.” [Maggie says].
“What in the hell is that?”
“You know, Muggles, non-magic folk. Didn’t you ever read Harry Potter?”
“I am a half-Mexican, half African-American woman making my way in a middle-aged white guy world, do you really think I have time to read kids’ books?”
“Well, he was kind of a detective; he had to track down Horcruxes.”
“You know I’m not listening to you anymore, right?”
Other characters aren’t all they could be, though this is no doubt somewhat due to sequel syndrome: Maggie’s daughter Megan is mentioned exactly once, appears for a paragraph, and is never mentioned again, though for all I know she has a larger role in the previous book. Another character, “Gator”, seemed to me to be a little stereotypically “shell-shocked Vietnam veteran” (completely with an ‘I’ll help you, lil’ lady’ attitude toward Maggie that drove me up the wall) One sequence dealing with his PTSD flashbacks makes for some very awkward reading. That’s a minor sin in terms of how much space it takes up in the book; the plot doesn’t hang on it.
And what of the plot? It’s always difficult to discuss murder mysteries without giving away too much of the plot, but on the whole I found the plot of Entangled pretty far-fetched, but didn’t mind one bit.
The term “beach read” is taken as perjorative by some people, but I mean this seriously: with the Florida setting and witty characters and fast-paced plot, take this one to the beach with you.