Jacqueline E. Smith’s Trashy Suspense Novel tells the story of Eloise Keller, owner of Blue Ridge Books in the small town of Cedar Ridge, North Carolina. Life with her six-year-old son Isaac is pretty routine and uneventful, until the local legend of the Bogman rears its head and a well known horror novelist moves to town and sweeps her off her feet.
Like Trashy Romance Novel, this book is the complete opposite of what the title implies. That is to say, it isn’t trashy at all. Because Smith is the Queen of Realistic Fiction – John and Hank Green share the title of King, of course – her characters instantly come to life from the pages, and they feel like a reader’s best friend.
Characters aside, however, this book definitely has more depth to it. It’s not just the drama that comes with being best friends with the members of The Kind of September, as in Smith’s series Boy Band, or trying to hide behind a pseudonym while your novels are being made into a TV show as in Trashy Romance Novel. Sure, there’s the usual romance and famous-person-in-hiding themes, but Trashy Suspense Novel also flirts with the True Crime genre.
And that’s what makes it great. It’s so subtle the reader doesn’t see it coming until the very end. The story seems to be predictable, until, all of a sudden, it isn’t. It’s the kind of thing that keeps a reader turning pages while they’re on their toes.
That being said, there was definitely room to add more to the story. Eloise’s backstory, to be precise. We know she’s a single mom with a six-year-old, but that’s about it. She doesn’t like to open up about her past, which is definitely understandable, but it does leave the reader curious. It was also kind of hard to pin down the creep. One of the other characters, Cortland Hill, does show up wherever Eloise and Isaac are, but the reader might not immediately share Eloise’s apprehension that he might be dangerous.
The excerpts of books within the book are good too. So good that they could be their own books if Smith wanted to do that. Come to think of it, maybe they should be their own books. This reader definitely wouldn’t complain, but Jacqeline E. Smith can do what she wants without answering to anybody.