Friday, February 05, 2010

What Looks Like Crazy by Charlotte Hughes

Title: What Looks Like Crazy
Author: Charlotte Hughes
ISBN: 9780515144239, Jove Books, 2008
Genre: Cozy Mystery, #1 Dr. Kate Holly mystery
Rating: B-

First Line: As a clinical psychologist, I've spent most of my time trying to convince my clients they're not crazy.

You might be more familiar with Charlotte Hughes from the series she co-wrote with Janet Evanovich. I admit to reading the first, Full House, and not being very impressed.

This time, the South Carolina writer is all by her lonesome and introducing us to clinical psychologist Kate Holly. Kate lives in Atlanta in a house with mood swings that she calls "Mad Ethel". She's afraid to say too much about the house to her landlord in case all the repairs are made and the rent is raised. She has an eccentric receptionist who drums up business by such schemes as offering free manicures. and her mother and aunt collect junk art. (They recently installed a vaguely sexual sculpture in her front yard, and Kate's neighbors are up in arms.)

Her psychiatrist ex-boyfriend keeps referring all sorts of "interesting" cases to her, and Kate begins to receive mysterious threats. If she weren't so busy chasing after everyone, she just might be able to take these threats seriously.

Kate is an extremely likable character. She has a good turn of phrase (I blushed so hard that I was certain I'd singed my eyebrows), and we tend to see eye-to-eye on things: Despite my Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I had yet to figure out why Popeye and Brutus were constantly coming to fisticuffs over a woman like Olive Oyl.

I also liked the care and concern Kate showed with each of her patients. What did wear a little thin with me throughout the first section of the book was her reason for divorcing her firefighter husband-- she literally cannot stand the thought of his being in danger every single day. That's the only reason. Kate's explanations carried on a bit too long for me, to the point where I wanted to tell her to put on her big girl panties and deal with it. Good thing I'm not the psychologist, eh?

Other than being mildly irked with Kate for the first quarter of the book and wondering about a practically non-existent mystery, I greatly enjoyed this book. Hughes' skill in characterization will have me looking for the second book in the series, Nutcase, when I need something light and fun.

[Source: Paperback Swap.]


  1. I love the name of this and just may have to seek out some of this author's work for my literary road trip.

  2. Actually I think you'd make an excellent psychologist - and practical too. :)

  3. Kathy-- Good! I know that I want to read more of her books.

    Barbara-- Well, I *am* in need of a job right now.... ;)


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