Review of DON'T LOOK DOWN by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
St. Martin's Press, April 2006
When her sister calls for her help, Lucy Armstrong leaves her job filming dog-food ads and heads for the swamps where her sister and ex-husband are involved in filming a movie. Then the star shows up with an Army Special Forces Captain, J. T. Wilder, as stunts advisor and ex-husband Connor gets bent-out-of-shape by the sexy soldier. It doesn't take long for Lucy to figure out something is very wrong with the movie. First, there's her sister who is abusing drugs. Second, there's the assistant director who's secretly the screenwriter who believes her movie is being hijacked, and finally there's the mysterious investor who insists that filming take place exactly his way. Oh, and down in the swamps is Moot, the alligator who's increasingly enjoying the food people bring him.
There's instant attraction between Lucy and J. T., but it takes a while for each of them to overcome a long-held unwillingness to trust anyone. Still, if anyone is to survive the increasingly dangerous filming (and when the CIA gets involved, J.T. knows it is dangerous), the two need to work together. But will the secrets each refuses to give up destroy their chances for a relationship?
DON'T LOOK DOWN is an intriguing attempt to combine the rich and quirky characters that Jennifer Crusie (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Crusie) is famous for with convincing thriller action (co-author Bob Mayer is an ex-Green Beret). It's a good idea and it nearly works. The guns, helicopters, and male/male relationships add interest and depth to the story. I felt a bit short-changed both by the characters and by the action. J. T. was two-dimensional, Lucy wasn't much more (unlike Crusie's usual deeply layered characters). On the action side, the entire plot seemed too complicated, too far-fetched, and too incompetent for who was supposed to be involved and for what they were trying to achieve. Perhaps the Wonder Woman theme introduced early should have been a warning to expect comic-book characters and schemes.
After a rough first chapter, though, the writing smoothed down and the Crusie/Mayer combination kept me intrigued and reading. Flaws and all, DON'T LOOK DOWN was a hard book to put down.
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