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Book Review: I Love You More

July 12, 2014

Jacket image, I Love You More by Jennifer MurphyI Love You More by Jennifer Murphy
Doubleday, June 2014 (review copy from publisher)

Picasso Lane is twelve years old when her father, Oliver is murdered. During the course of the murder investigation, it is discovered that her father has two other wives. All of the women say they have never met, are shocked to learn of their husband’s polygamy. But, precocious Picasso knows otherwise. She knows that the other two women arrived secretly at the house, and that all three have the same purse, but carry different photos of her father. Kyle Kennedy, the detective assigned to the case, spends more and more time with Picasso’s mother, investigating the family, and then beginning to hope that she won’t be a suspect. The novel is told in alternating chapters, from the point of view of Picasso, Kyle, the Wives as a whole, and yes, even Oliver. As in: the dead guy. (I thought that last was a bit much.)

We’ll start with the good: It’s a fast summer read, but the prose is well crafted enough, that it feels a cut above purely trashy. Using alternating chapters to tell the mystery was an interesting device- the daughter, an investigator, the wives who might be suspects. I liked the shifts, though as I mentioned, hearing from the dead husband was a bit over the top. And I genuinely had no idea who had actually done the murder, as I followed along with the investigation. I found the wives’ interactions with each other, and the power dynamic between them interestingly creepy.

That said… this was a book I enjoyed disliking, far more than I actually enjoyed reading it. Poindextrix was in town for the weekend I was reading this. She and I kept laughing at how often I scoffed “Oh come on!” or “Really? Are you kidding me?” and rolling my eyes at the book. I can’t give a full account of what made me roll my eyes without spoiling, but here is a brief list:

The fact that nobody had a normal name. Picasso (who was at times, the kind of precocious kid who sets my teeth on edge in fiction) offers the explanation for why she is named Picasso (something about her mother and art and the truth). But come on! In the first few pages, when she referred to the other wives as “Jewels” and “Bert,” I snarked about nobody having a normal name in this gimmicky book.

While I appreciated the Wives chapters as a way to understand them in a character-driven suspense novel, I got frustrated by the pseudo-mystical tone of their narrative.

And Kyle? Do not get me started! I understand there are tropes in mystery novels, especially for gruff detectives who have Pasts, and beautiful women in trouble but come on! “He should take himself off the case!” I protested, making Poindextrix giggle.

In sum, I guess I had enough fun disliking this book to make it a worthwhile read?

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