Erica is her own woman

Monkey Business – Kathryn Ledson

I decided to give this book a try as part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge.
This is the second book in Ledson’s Erica Jewell series and if you have not read the first book (I have not) you can read this novel as a standalone without any problems.  
Erica Jewell is a part-time vigilante and her on again/off again boyfriend Jack and his partner Joe have gone M.I.A on the island of Saint Sebastian. It is up to Erica to try and find them and bring them home but along the way she meets some colourful characters, a whole stack of danger and an international black market in Tupperware.  
Ledson’s writing is sharp, with great pace and she creates an interesting world. The descriptions of places such as Darwin were on the whole accurate and gave a great feel to novel.  The book is easy to read because Ledson has a great way of making you feel the story is aimed directly at you. The writing keeps you going but to be honest the story was lacking.

I have no problem suspending disbelief, when I read a book that is what I want. I want the fantastical, the humour, the over top the situations that just do not seem plausible in real life. You get a lot of that in this book and that may have been part of the problem as to why it does not work. There were too many over the top situations that bogged the narrative down. It was great to read Australian Football references, even if it was the dreaded Collingwood! Yet I was wondering why this was included and the zoo picnic. I kept expecting it to be part of some secret mission but no, just an excuse for Erica to go on about Jack.
I really struggled to connect with the main character Erica Jewell. I realised I had made chapter 8 and all I had read was the he loves/loves me not. In fact Erica seemed to be only able to do a couple of things really well and they were having wet dreams about Jack naked, overthink their relationship status and cry. Far out Erica can cry she must break down and have a good bawl every four or five pages.  Then when she finally gets motivated to go and find Jack and his partner, well I started to wonder just what, if any skills she had. Erica pretty much stumbles around asks dumb questions, blunders into danger and trusts everyone.  Having said I did like Erica’s attitude to life and her zany approach.
The love of Erica’s life is of course Jack and he is the strong and ever so silent type.  There is enough chemistry between them on the page but I really did not feel emotionally invested as to whether they ended up together or not.

I did take issue with Erica early on was a throw away abut Jack’s former wife. It actually comes across as quite heartless when she explains Jack was late for breakfast with his parents and wife who were at the World Trade Towers on 11 September. Erica says she was personally glad he had missed the appointment. I know she was happy to have him but at the loss of three people seems a bit cruel.
This is a fun read and Erica has a great deal of promise as a main character. Do not get into the Stephanie Plum comparisons as Erica is her own woman.  

For more information on Kathryn Ledson check out her website