"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Me, Myself and Why? by MaryJanice Davidson

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Summary: An FBI agent with Multiple Personality Disorder tries to track down a serial killer in Minneapolis, while dealing with the challenges of dating someone who isn't scared off by her MPD. 

Sometimes, when you start a book, you just have to commit to the rules that the author has laid out, no matter how silly they seem. (See J.R. Ward, Laurell K. Hamilton, Cassandra Clare.)

In Me, Myself, and Why, author MaryJanice Davidson takes a welcomed break from her Elizabeth Taylor, the Vampire Queen series, and introduces us to Cadence Jones, a member of the FBI's BOFFO team. BOFFO (real definition: a person who has extensive skill or knowledge in a particular field) is titled the Buerea of False Flag Ops, a name which doesn't really make sense as a title, but fills in the letters. But I can sum it up - it takes a crazy to catch a crazy.

Agent Cadence Jones and her partner George - a sociopath - are assigned to the ThreeFer serial killer case. An unsub has been killing exactly three people and leaving them to be found together. But now the killer has hit their hometown of Minneapolis. Cadence works well with the local police, especially Lynn, who knows about Cadence's special issues.
Lynn was a rare creature - she thought an entire department of armed, crazy federal agents was a fine plan. Congress, by contrast, didn't always get on board. Most people didn't, in fact. It was almost like they felt the disadvantages of putting schizophrenic kleptomaniac sociopathic multiple personality depressives in the field outweighed the benefits. Which only proves that many people have no imagination.
Cadence's secret, and her advantage, is that she is actually three agents in one. Cadence Jones is tall, thin and blonde. She's also polite, charming, gentle and a virgin. Her "sister" or alter personality Shiro is a short Asian woman, in addition to being tough, no nonsense and very smart. Their last sister, Adrienne, is crazy. By that I mean she is excessively violent, sings "The wheels on the bus" out loud, is sexually adventuresome, and a muscular leggy redhead.

Now do you get the situation? As a reader, the only way we know which sister is present is that Cadence's text will stop abruptly, and we go to an entirely new chapter. The people who work with Cadence/Shiro/Adrienne seems to know exactly when Shiro makes an appearance. It must be some expression on her face. We also know when Adrienne is around, because her text appears in italics or caps and looks like bad poetry. Shiro appears whenever she thinks Cadence is in danger, but it's unclear exactly what triggers Adrienne's appearance. Perhaps some sort of violence that Shiro can't quite handle?

In addition to tracking down a serial killer who has hit Minneapolis, Cadence was set up with her best friend's brother, Patrick. On one date, all three personalities come out and when Cadence comes to and sees Patrick covered in syrup, she knows that Adrienne must have freaked out. Expecting to slink away mortified, Cadence is alarmed when Patrick confesses that he's intrigued by all three sisters and would like to see them all again. What kind of sicko wants to date a woman with multiple personality disorder? If he has sex with one sister, is he cheating on the other two?  And surprisingly, all three sisters are attracted to Patrick. What can they all be thinking? All sorts of things to think about.

And the dates are disturbing. A nice dinner with Cadence at a fancy restaurant turns into a parking lot brawl after Shiro is approached by some hoodlums, and then they drive away with Adrienne at the wheel commanding Patrick not to remove his hand from whatever it's doing. Cadence wakes up from her black-out with her panties around her knees, driving a car going 60 miles per hour on side streets. That Adrienne!

The story was intriguing and I do like FBI procedural mysteries, but the absolute silliness of the book left me uncertain on how to approach the book. There's Cadence's stereotypical Midwestern demeanor. She swears furiously at Patrick -  "Darn it all to hippy-skip!"  Shiro is no-nonsense and the best detective of the three, taking over Cadence's mind for three days (!?) while she complies research. But Shiro also likes to smoke cigarettes, because she knows it will piss off Cadence. And then there's Adrienne, who rips the spine out of three guard dogs when Cadence goes to interview a witness.

And Cadence absolutely refuses to deal with the trauma that created the personality split in the first place.  When her work-mandated therapist suggests integration of the personalities, Cadence rebels.
I'd been this way as long as I could remember. Shiro and Adrienne had always been there. We were a family. A screwed-up murderously nutty family with government benefits and great parking spots. 
If this book had been a little less silly and/or ridiculous, I would have given it a higher rating. I would like to read more about Cadence, and Shiro, but maybe it would take another book to explain the purpose of Adrienne and what she brings.

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