Friday, September 5, 2008

"Sofie Metrolpolis" by Tori Carrington

OK, this is not something I would've probably picked up to read. I've seen it before and thought it looked, well, just OK - nothing about it screamed "read me! read me!" Then I was asked to be friends with Tori Carrington on MySpace - Tori actually being the pen name of husband and wife duo Lori and Tony Karayianni. They had included a note with their friend request saying it was obvious I loved to read and how they were impressed by my Shelfari section on my page, etc. Awww............

I accepted their request, then checked our system and there's the book! There are several of their Sofie books in our system. WOW! So I checked out the first one, aptly named for the lead character, and commenced to reading.

Sofie is of Greek-American heritage with a large, loving, if somewhat nosy family. After literally catching her hubby-to-be with his pants down on the day of her wedding (with her best friend maid-of-honor, no less!), Sofie decided to turn her life in a new direction. She did move into the apartment building that her parents had bought as a wedding gift, but she stopped working at her family's restaurant and began taking steps to make it in Astoria as a private investigator. She's currently working at Uncle Spyro's agency, not really doing any big cases yet, mostly finding lost pets and cheating spouses. All in a day's work for Sofie. Except her newest cheating-spouse case may not be what it seems.

There's also Jake, the very handsome Aussie guy who keeps showing up. He's rescued Sofie a time or two, but she knows pretty much nothing about him. He might or might not be a bounty hunter. He might be a government agent. Or, he might just be the thing Sofie needs to get her nasty ex-hubby-to-be out of her life!

OK. Let's just get this out of the way up front - yes, there are a lot of similarities to Sofie and one Stephanie Plum, and I wouldn't be a very good reviewer if I didn't mention that little fact. Indeed, there are reviews out there saying this is basically Plum-Lite (others were very mean and called it a Greek ripoff) and that you might want to read them while waiting for the next Evanovich offering. Well, I don't agree. Yes, the basics are similar - there's no getting around it. But there are enough differences, key differences in my opinion, that I think there's plenty of room for both series in the world of mystery fiction.

While both have had their share of heartache at the hands of scumbag cheaters, Steph has moved on to her childhood love, Joe (and occasionally her own mystery man, Ranger). Sofie hasn't moved on to anyone as of yet, even if she is fantasizing about Jake. I actually liked that she's not dating anyone or involved with anyone in this first book; it gave me a chance to get to know her. Both women work in a sort of law-enforcement-type deal, but let's remember that Stephanie only took the bounty hunter gig after she was fired from several other jobs. Sofie, on the other hand, chose her fate and went to work as a PI. And she's not horrible at it, she just hasn't had that much experience yet. I don't see Sof as a bumbling PI for the whole series (and I hope I'm not wrong!) but as a woman who's serious about her profession and wants to make a go of it. She's studying to get her PI license, for Pete's sake!

Here's another big difference between these series - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to my patrons, mostly because there's very little if any foul language in it. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a prude and I think the Plum books are hysterical. But let's face facts - Lula's language would shock and offend a lot of my library people, especially some of the older ones and/or the more proper ones (i.e. - the ones that prefer the Inspirational Fiction genre). I have to really stop and think before putting a Plum book in a reader's hands, and often I even warn them about the expletives and racy scenes (not everyone wants to read about Steph's panties, after all). But the Sofie books? Piece of cake! This was a good, clean read with a well-thought-out plot, good character development, etc.

I will definitely be checking out the next book in the Sofie series. I'm pretty sure I'm right about Sofie's growth as a character, so now I need to confirm my suspicions! Oh, and maybe Jake will make a return appearance...

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