WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER by Max Allan Collins
What Doesn’t Kill Her is a strange brew to me. On the one hand, I thought Max Allan Collins might have been setting up a series heroine. Truth to tell, Jordan Rivera has a Batman-like origin story, some serious kung fu, and becomes suddenly wealthy. But the story spreads out from the breath-taking beginning and becomes a crime/suspense novel.
Jordan’s sudden release from the sanitarium where she’d been staying was a big leap required of willing suspension of disbelief. She heard about a murdered family and decided the guy who’d killed her family was still out there and she needed to stop him. So, after not speaking for ten years, she makes steps to get out.
I thought then that we would see Jordan tracking down the serial killer. Instead, the novel turns into an ensemble bit that made me think of Collins’ novels in the CSI and Criminal Minds franchises, all of which I’ve enjoyed. So I thought, okay, we’re going to see the formation of a team that will go after serial killers. That didn’t happen either.
The narrative was also divided by the introduction of Mark Pryor, the guy Jordan was crushing on ten years ago before her family was killed. The tragedy inspired him to become a police officer and he’s recently made detective – and he’s got an insatiable desire to run to ground the serial killer that murdered Jordan’s family. Somewhere in there, the story got diluted by all the point of view shifts.
The suspense was there, but the action got buried in dialogue regarding the kind of person who would commit those murders. Most of that any fan of the genre will already know. In fact, I was a little bummed because the killer turned out to be so ordinary in the end. The ending also feels ordinary instead of gripping.
Collins has created some unique and enduring heroes and heroines throughout his career, but Jordan Rivera just hasn’t arrived yet. If this is the start of a series, perhaps we’ll see more growth in the next book.