My personal rating: 3 out of 5
My three sentence synopsis: When her cover gets blown, CIA operative Fortune Redding winds up with a $1 million price on her head and nowhere to hide since her boss has discovered that a leak at headquarters is the reason Fortune’s last operation went south. To her great dismay, Fortune must go completely off grid, posing as a former beauty queen and the niece of a recently deceased spinster in the tiny bayou town of Sinful, Louisiana. But the plan for Fortune to spend the summer quietly cataloging her “aunt’s” estate comes dangerously close to falling apart when the dog she inherited digs up a human bone and the two elderly ringleaders of the Sinful Ladies Society determine that Fortune is the one to help them solve the crime before the wrong person is arrested for murder.
The first morsel of prose: I stepped off the Learjet at the private airfield just before dawn. I’d been on the plane exactly seventeen hours, twenty-six minutes and fourteen seconds, wearing the same eight-hundred-dollar dress I’d worn when I killed a man twenty-five hours earlier.
The reason I chose this book: My mother-in-law said it was the best book she’d read in a long time, that she’d laughed out loud through the whole thing, and even read parts of it to my father-in-law, who found them just as funny as she did.
My experience with this book: I was thrilled that Mom enjoyed the book so much, in part because I’d given it to her for Christmas, but mostly because it was wonderful to see her so enthusiastically happy about something. With an endorsement like that and a fairly strong opening paragraph, I was surprised when my reading of the first few chapters was punctuated by eye rolls rather than belly laughs. Based on her performance in Sinful, Louisiana, I was mystified that Fortune’s boss believed someone else had blown her cover in the Middle East. It looked to me like the only things she did better than blowing her cover were sprinting and being snarky.
As I thought about my reaction to this rather arrogant yet incompetent operative, I wondered if reading too many “gritty” thrillers had compromised my ability to enjoy a lighter take on the genre. But I still love Dorothy Gilman’s series staring Mrs. Pollifax, who does her fair share of bumbling as well. However, Mrs. Pollifax’s foibles are usually due to her naivete rather than a fragile ego. Thus, I find Mrs. Pollifax charming and Miss Fortune annoying.
Like a lot of Michael Bay’s action movies, Louisiana Longshot is over-the-top and absurd. (There’s an idea: maybe a good cast and a capable director would have helped me find the humor in this story better than my internal narrator’s voice did.) I think disliking the main character made it more difficult for me to go along with her implausible escapades, but eventually I settled into the rhythm of this screwball comedy and it became a fun romp. I even chuckled–once. By the end, I’d become invested enough in the other characters to relish the take down of the villain and enjoy the closing celebration.
What this book is about: Friendship and honesty and how those things can make it easier to be who you really are and possible to do more of what you really want to do, which makes the craziness of life more bearable.