Who reads crime thrillers anymore?
Oh, that’s right, everyone but me. I did give it an honest go earlier this summer, though, when I picked up Lola, a fast-paced crime thriller, by Melissa Scrivner Love. Did I fall in love with the book? Not exactly. But I did enjoy it, and I think people who usually read books in this genre will like it, too, even if they won’t admit it to their friends.
So why’d I pick up Lola if I’m not a fan of books in this genre? For one reason, really: the protagonist is a fierce, Mexican-american woman who secretly leads a gang in South Central L.A. and I wanted to live vicariously through her.
And isn’t that the whole point of opening up some books? To step into the lives of outrageous characters and for a few, brief hours, living their adventures as if they were our own? Don’t we all want to be kingpins and spies and space travelers? I know I do, and that’s the experience I was looking for when I read Lola.
Scrivner Love’s story follows Lola and her gang, The Crenshaw Six, as they struggle to stay alive after the cartel taps them for an impossible job. No one but Lola’s crew knows she’s actually in charge, though, and she operates in secrecy under the guise of being nothing more than the fake leader, Garcia’s, girlfriend. As the story progresses, Lola’s life is threatened by the cartel and the world she’s built for her makeshift family starts to crumble. Drama ensues.
Some of the better qualities of the book are that it’s quick-paced, there’s rich character development, and the author wasn’t afraid to delve into tricky, but often real, complications in life, including abuse, betrayal, and poverty. And like I mentioned before, I appreciated that the protagonist is a minority woman who isn’t weak or enmeshed in a sappy love affair. Instead, she’s (ahem) a mother-fuckin’ boss. This, in and of itself, was very refreshing.
Unfortunately, the book has a few problems that I couldn’t overlook while reading, starting with the quality of the writing. The narrative is choppy and overly dramatic, with cheesy lines sprinkled across each page. Every time I opened Lola, I felt like I was reading an unadapted movie script instead of a novel. There were also too many antagonists without any redeeming qualities. I mean, we all love to hate a guy, but a story is much more interesting if you give me a few reasons not to.
Overall, I’d only recommend this book to someone who really enjoys crime-thrillers, or maybe to someone who can’t let go of Law and Order (just let it go, guys, let it go…). I would not recommend it to any of my lit-loving friends. As soon as I finished reading it, Lola went straight into my guilty-pleasure reading pile. And if any of you were to find it in stashed somewhere in my apartment, say behind On Tyrrany or The Giver, I’d probably say “I’m just holding it for a friend” and look the other way.
*Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review.