This mystery novel springboards from interspecies gene-mixing to murder, terrorism, dirty politics and the Disneyfication of Orlando, Fla.
When an Orlando researcher unknowingly uses a petri dish contaminated by the DNA of an escaped research “smart mouse” for the in vitro fertilization of his fiancée, it leads to the birth of an unusual daughter nicknamed “Meanie Mouse.” Her shared genes make for a high IQ, hatred of cats and a penchant for viciously righting wrongs, whether the offenders are violent thugs or inconsiderate moviegoers—the violence of Meanie’s reprisals make little distinction regarding the offenses’ severity. Unfortunately, Malphurs’ (Mexia: The Memoirs of J.C. Mulkey, 2009, etc.) literary payback for some of life’s common irritants isn’t humorous or creative enough to make his heroine more likable than her targets. The mysterious death of a young woman at a health-care center and the evildoings of the Rabid Rats gang involve Meanie with inept detectives, the Orlando Operators football team and booster club, a foiled terrorist plot, bungled plastic surgery, surprise pregnancies and a “beau” named Mookie. At times, his complicated plotlines seem to confuse even Malphurs. Meanie finishes her first year of college in one chapter, then again three chapters later. She and Mookie drive to a football game that they are already attending in the preceding paragraph. “Heavy traffic” occurs during a “heavy thunderstorm.” Malphurs’ characters are shallowly drawn, at the mercy of stilted dialogue (“Hooper looked tired and emotionally exhausted. His affect was flat.”), unintentional humor (Meanie hypnotizes men with a pearl necklace in her cleavage) and awkward love scenes (“He kissed her, pushing his tongue through to hers”). The characters act and speak immediately,” “quickly,” “suddenly,” “actually” and “truly.” They administer copious hugs, sometimes twice in the same paragraph, and Malphurs has his characters laugh, giggle, smile and chuckle regardless of the situation at hand.
A convoluted narrative desperately in need of an editor’s eye and at least a modicum of logic and emotional truth.