Wild Kat by Karen Kijewski
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
"KURIOSITY KILLS THE KAT; DEAD KATS TELL NO TALES; KILL KILL KILL; WATCH YOUR PUSSY, KAT; KATS DON'T HAVE 9 LIVES."
Karen Kijewski's Wild Cat (1994) is my first encounter with Kat Colorado, the PI protagonist of the Kat series. I am afraid that it may also be my last contact with the author as I do not like the writing style and have not found the novel interesting at all.
The story begins with Kat's visit to a hospital where she talks to Jude, a man whose life she saved after a freeway accident. However, it soon becomes clear that it has not been an accident, but rather an attempt to kill Jude's wife, Amanda. She acted as a whistleblower in a medical equipment company that has knowingly been selling faulty heart valves. Since the righteously determined Amanda cannot be stopped in her zeal to prevent patients' deaths and bring the company to justice the harassment continues and she is no longer the only target: Jude and Kat are also subject to threats, assaults, and property damage. This escalates to murder staged as an accidental death. Obviously Kat's investigation is successful and she manages to find the killer whose identity many readers may find surprising.
The one thing I like in the novel is the relatively cogent discussion of issues related to companies' liability for defective products. That the companies face balancing between costs of correcting the product and costs of settlements is well known. Less known is the need of the victims to balance between their individual interest and the public good: signing confidential settlements as opposed to going public with the complaint is at the heart of the issue.
Sadly, everything else in the novel is rather substandard. First of all, the whole concept of the never-ending series of childish harassment pranks after a murder has occurred is ridiculous. Bird feeder tipped, hummingbird syrup splashed out, roses in full bloom cut and petals pulled off? Anonymous messages in the mail? Fecal matter on the lawn? Dead rat in the mailbox? All that after killing and heavy bodily assault that borders on rape! Why not painting mustaches on family portraits and placing whoopee cushions on the chairs? Why not making scary faces or yelling "Booo!" at Kat?
Neither do I like the author's manner of writing: dialogues and inner monologues are interspersed with remarks and asides to the reader. Yet another literary gripe relates to the pretentious habit of preceding each chapter with a sample question sent to Charity, Kat's friend and a newspaper advice columnist. It's not that the questions are totally silly - which is to be expected - it's that the whole thing has no connection to the plot. In addition to the characters having no depth - a weakness that is acceptable in an entertainment read - they also talk in inane platitudes, using "written" rather than spoken language.
Not a good book at all, but at least the author should be commended for raising the lesser-known aspects of health care product liability issues.
One and three quarter stars.
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