Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meet Stella Hardesty...

A Bad Day for Sorry: A Crime Novel
by Sophie Littlefield

She's the 50-year-old the proprietress of Prosper, Missouri's only sewing machine and repair shop. Oh, and she's a card-carrying badass. Just ask anyone. This wasn't always the case. For nearly three decades, Stella was trapped in a physically and emotionally abusive marriage. Until the day she stopped it. Permanently. With a wrench. In her own words, that's "the day when she finally had enough of Ollie's abuse and made the transformation from passive victim to hell-for-leather avenger."

Because Stella wasn't content to help only herself. In the two years since she was acquitted for murder, she's started a little side business. "...A little seed of an idea had begun to germinate in her mind, a growing conviction that no woman should have to put up with abuse by her husband or boyfriend, and--to Stella's surprise--that she just might have a calling to help put a stop to it. After all, she already had one notch in her belt, so to speak." Stella Hardesty is in the "justice business."

Now, I don't mean to make this warm Midwestern lady sound like Missouri's answer to Dirty Harry, but she does have quite a reputation in certain circles. Let's put it this way, it's probably best to stay on her good side. Once you're there, she's as loyal as they come. And she has a terrible time turning away anyone in need, even if it's the 13-year-old kid across the street.

Now, knowing that this novel was the first of a series built around this character, I wasn't really sure what I was expecting. Or maybe I was. I think I was expecting something a little more cartoonish. I mean, look at the character I just described. She seems a little larger than life. Here's where Sophie Littlefield's talent comes in, because the truth is that she's created a fully believable, fully realized woman in Stella Hardesty. She's not a caricature at all. We spend this novel inside her head, hear her most intimate thoughts, and empathize with her fears, desires, and trouble with cosmetics. Well, at least I did.

The plot of A Bad Day for Sorry eventually proves to be a compelling mystery. Chrissy Shaw is the damsel in distress. Her no-good husband is one of Stella's "parolees." But just when Stella thinks she's knocked some sense into the man, he goes and runs off with Chrissy's toddler. Or did he? And why take the little boy?

This isn't one of those mysteries that you'll be able to solve if you correctly decipher the clues. No, this is one of those stories that you just need to read to the end to see how it plays out. But it sure wasn't predictable. I read this book in about a day and a half. The plot kept me turning the pages, but it's the endearing characters I met along the way that made me pick up the sequel as soon as I put this one down. Let me tell you--that Stella, she grows on you. Besides, I have to see what's going to happen between her and the Sheriff...

No comments:

Post a Comment