Book Review #229

 

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Paperback, 284 pages
Published April 4th 2006 by Tor Books (first published June 1st 2005)
Original Title: Sofie Metropolis (Sofie Metropolis, #1)
ISBN: 0765350998 (ISBN13: 9780765350992)
Edition Language: English
Series: Sofie Metropolis #1
 

Here’s another fun P.I. series to keep you entertained! Sofie Metropolis is on the case! Working at her mostly retired uncle’s Private Investigator office along with the quirky, gum popping office manager. Of course what’s an entertaining P.I. series without the mysterious hunk!? Don’t fear…the mysterious & hunky Jake Porter will steam things up!

The book takes place in Astoria, Queens. Where if you haven’t guessed it already Sofie & her Greek family live & work. Of course you can’t forget Sofie’s over-bearing, but loving mother. Throw all that together along with a missing dog, possible vampires & cheating spouses & you have one romping, wild ride!

The Metropolis series is comparable to Evanovich, Plum series. When I picked the book up I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy it very much or not. After having read it I can say that I very much did! What makes it stand out is the Greek heritage & references. The book has been compared to the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding & of course the Plum series. I can see the comparisons of both in this book. A light, entertaining, fun read that I would recommend for Evanovich & Lutz fans, along with any fans of comparable authors.

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Paperback, 332 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Forge (first published 2006)
Original Title: Dirty Laundry (Sofie Metropolis, #2)
ISBN: 0765351005 (ISBN13: 9780765351005)
Edition Language: English
Series: Sofie Metropolis #2

In this unabashed mimic of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, PI Sofie Metropolis returns once again to the New York crime scene, this time dead set on finding Uncle Tolly, a laundry owner who suddenly disappeared after buying an expensive Mercedes. As Sofie investigates, all clues lead to his involvement in the Greek mafia. Was he laundering more than just clothes? Sofie’s probe into the underworld of Astoria proves to be dangerous to her own health, for she finds herself being tailed by men that look too much like hitmen for comfort and being tested out for new shoes – of the cement variety! As if that weren’t enough, her uncle Spiros is still out of the country and Sofie is shouldering more than her share of the agency’s work, including trying to serve papers to an evasive man, prove the guilt of a man involved in a workman’s compensation swindle and find a few more missing pets and cheating spouses. Her personal life isn’t much simpler, for the heat wave that has hit New York is obviously causing everyone around her to act strangely: her father is probably being unfaithful, her dog is releasing deadly fumes and her current love (or is that lust) interest, Jake Porter, continues to save the day but otherwise remain frustratingly elusive. Will Sofie ever straighten up the mess that she calls her life?

 

Although some reviewers obviously disagree. I tried reading the Stephanie Plum books but found them just a bit too vulgar for my taste. This series, though by no means lacking in innuendos and highly charged scenes, scales down the intensity quite a bit which I found to be much more to my liking. The characters are quirky and likable and the plot is fast-paced and enjoyable. I love Sofie’s internal commentary, which ranges from witty (like her quips about a life that is characterized by “stale Jordan almonds and dog farts”) to insightful (like her observation that she needed to stop living for work and start living to enjoy life!) Like her, I agree that it’s not the heat that makes people act strangely…we’re just all strange to start out with! I look forward to reading more of her adventures.

I  think the Greek cultural references in this series are cute/funny, but seriously, here’s the formula that seems to make this series and others like it so popular:

1. Woman is bumbling through a career that involves the law somehow (PI, bail bonds, etc)
2. Woman has a crazy ethnic family
3. Woman has a sexy male counterpart/friend/helper who likes/loves/hates her
4. Woman’s office/job has a sexy bimbo (who’s actually smart)
5. Woman’s past record with men isn’t great (unfaithful husband/boyfriend)
6. Woman engages in outrageous antics that are over the top but very funny
7. Woman has a side kick
8. Woman’s life involves an affinity/connection to food

And maybe I’m cranky because there wasn’t enough Jake Porter in this one for my romantic craving at the time. My final verdict? Love this series.

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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 29th 2007 by Forge Books (first published 2007)
Original Title: Foul Play (Sofie Metropolis, #3)
ISBN: 0765317435 (ISBN13: 9780765317438)
Edition Language: English
Series: Sofie Metropolis #3

Foul Play is the third Sofie Metropolis mystery (after Dirty Laundry and Sofie Metropolis). Tori Carrington — the husband and wife team of Lori and Tony Karayianni — made their mark on the publishing world writing Harlequin romance. For the Metropolis books they’ve combined the romance formula with that of the mystery genre and come up with something, if not quite original, then at least sure to appeal to readers of mysteries and romances alike. References to what has gone before are made in Foul Play, but in such a way that it is not necessary to have read the first two novels.

The romance comes in the form of Dino, a young Greek owner of a chocolate shop, whom Sofie’s parents endeavor to match to her younger sister, Efi. But it’s Sofie on whom Dino has his eye. Although Sofie describes Dino as delicious as one of his shop’s confections with his suggestive grin, single dimple, great body and dark eyes (is it merely the romance genre in which women are allowed the freedom to be as visual as men, or are women in general dishonest when they purport that looks aren’t important?), her heart is taken by Jake Porter. Porter, who, the text alludes, played a much larger role in one of the previous books in the series, makes an all too brief appearance in Foul Play, but his showing does little to further the story or his (past or future) relationship with Sofie.

The mystery comes in the form of Reni Venezuela, the Mets’ newest pitching sensation whose strange behavior inspires his wife to hire Sofie, herself a Mets fan, to uncover the truth behind her husband’s uncharacteristic behavior as of late. As the Mets’ post season hopes rest on Venezuela’s arm, what Sofie at first thinks a simple case of marital infidelity is anything but as she notes the normally ambidextrous Reni has pitched the last four games left-handed. (As an aside, several major leaguers have delivered the baseball with both arms; however, the only major league pitcher in the modern era to pitch from both sides of the slab was Greg Harris. A natural right-hander, by 1986 Harris threw well enough with his left hand that he felt capable of pitching with either hand in a game, although he wasn’t allowed to throw left-handed in a regular-season game until September 28, 1995, the next-to-last game of his career, when he was pitching for the Montreal Expos.)

In addition to the Venezuela case are a couple of other minor cases, one involving a series of missing pets from the Astoria neighborhood in which Sofie lives as well as a couple suing the owner of a neighborhood diner for serving soup that purportedly contained a portion of a human ear.

Where James Garner as Jim Rockford typically got his a– kicked for snooping around where he didn’t belong, he used well-honed PI skills (as well as his connections with nefarious ne’er-do-wells such as Angel) to solve his cases, Sofie, a self-proclaimed novice in her grandfather’s business, often trusts her gut and, in her own words, “luck” in putting together pieces of the proverbial puzzle.

The narrative is deftly written in Sofie’s own first person, a tip of the creative cap perhaps to those who blazed the trail — Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane and Rex Stout — and while the uninitiated may find appealing her snappy repartee and self-depracating humor, it pales somewhat beside the brilliance of the aforementioned masters (consider Chandler’s prose from The Big Sleep: “The gentle-eyed, horse-faced maid let me into the long gray and white upstairs sitting room with the ivory drapes tumbled extravagantly on the floor and the white carpet from wall to wall. A screen star’s boudoir, a place of charm and seduction, artificial as a wooden leg.”).

Still, readers of this genre will find Sofie a likeable protagonist and the narrative fast-paced, a fun summer read.

 

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Hardcover, 352 pages

Published September 2nd 2008 by Forge Books (first published January 1st 2008)

Original Title: Working Stiff (Sofie Metropolis, #4)

ISBN: 0765317443 (ISBN13: 9780765317445)

Edition Language: English

Series: Sofie Metropolis #4

 

I came across Working Stiff when I was in high school. I saw the author’s name, recognized it, skimmed the blurb, and said ‘what the hell.’ Go figure that I find out after I start reading that this is actually the fourth book in the Sofie Metropolis series. Even so, I still read and enjoyed this one.

Sofie Metropolis is a P.I. out of Queens who takes on a case of a missing body – a missing dead body – for her aunt, and a case to try and find the real killer of a teenage girl so that a young man does not end up on trial for a murder he didn’t commit. This is something of a change from the cheating spouse and missing pet cases that Sofie is used to, but she is determined to succeed nonetheless.

In addition to following along with the cases there is the sheer insanity of working with a superstitious office manager who is sure that there is a neighborhood vampire around, dealing with a large Greek family and the meddling that comes along with the family, and of course a big Australian bounty hunter.

Working Stiff has a little bit of everything in it, mystery, romance (though not in the traditional, happily ever after sense), family… you get the jist. All in all it was a great read.

Many of the reviews compare the Metro books to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but personally I find it’s not as outrageous as the movie was. However! The authors (Tori Carrington is actually Tony and Lori Karayianni) do a great job of winding a modern P.I. tale around the true Greek stereotypes that have been passed on over the years.

 

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Author: mccullum001

I'm a 27 year old, who really doesn't know what I want to do...I have the education, but nothing to show for it...Stay Tuned!!!

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