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Unauthorized Departure    by Maureen O'Brien order for
Unauthorized Departure
by Maureen O'Brien
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2003 (2003)
*   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

London Detective John Bright travels to France with Jude (his live-in girlfriend) to escape the danger inherent in threatening letters. Unfortunately, danger travels with them and they are involved in nasty doings.

Maureen O'Brien knows her territory well, detailing the area of France where the action takes place. Unfortunately, there is very little action - in fact not much of anything happens until well into Unauthorized Departure. The countryside is depicted as though looking at a map instead of describing lush growth and blue skies, rambling rivers and flowers in bloom. The area seems to be meant to be a character, but one that is hard to envision.

As for the characters themselves, they too are bland. I'm not even sure just what they look like. I know Jude is a 'fine figure of a woman' with abundant hair. She seems to find it impossible to make up her mind about John, and unreasonably vacillates back and forth between love and rage. John too is nebulous and his thoughts range all over the map. The use of French is a nice touch and I tried to translate as much as I could with my miniscule knowledge of the language. But it became a burden because the author does not translate for those of her readers who are French challenged.

I think the plot is a good one though the manuscript would have benefited from additional drafts before publication - overall, a disappointing read, with potential that was not realized.
Note: This mystery will be released in September 2003.

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