The Curse of the Holy Pail
When I first laid my hands on this book, I really didn’t know what to think. I’d never heard of this series before, the only thing I did know was that it was a mystery novel. Before reading it, I studied the book’s cover and found myself smiling; it was the outline of a thick woman in casual garb, not the typical "attractive" silhouette squeezed in a curve-hugging, tailored suit that I was expecting. I guess that was my first clue this book would not be what I expected.
For a moment I pondered if I should have read the first book before reading this one. After a couple of pages, I completely forgot that this was the second of a series; Jaffarian introduced the reader to her heroine’s past adventure with ease and without repeating the whole first book. In fact, the small tidbits she did mention seemed less of an integral part of this book, and more to merely to acquaint protagonist, Odelia Grey, and the reader. By the end of the first chapter, I felt like I already knew Odelia.
Odelia Grey is not portrayed as your average heroine. She’s a short, middle-aged, fat paralegal who dislikes her boss. She’s also a smart, confident and independent gal who loves her friends, Thin Mints, and her cat Seamus. She has had bad relationships, and she has had good relationships. Her current relationship is with an intelligent wheelchair-bound hottie ten years her junior who not only worships her, he also understands her. Odelia Grey is an interesting and smart character; she’s portrayed as a real person, not in black and white, but with all of the shades in between. The fact that Odelia knows she’s heavy, but doesn’t obsess with it is quite honestly extremely refreshing.
The entire book is confident and charming; Jaffarian keeps the pace going without dropping the ball at any point. She inserts quirky little habits here and there, which make you like and relate to Odelia more, like the fact that she freezes her Girl Scout Cookies and eats them sparingly so they’ll last all year, or the fact that she gets herself in trouble even when she doesn’t mean to. The book involves a murder and the mysterious disappearance of a rare and expensive lunch box, which Odelia ends up solving.
The Curse of the Holy Pail is a light piece of fiction; it’s smartly written and yet it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Jaffarian fills her pages with all types of characters: fat, thin, handicapped, black, white, Latino, even dwarfs. Yet, she doesn’t put them in stereotypes, each one of them exists in her or his own world with her or his own reasons. Odelia Grey carries the book with confident strides and a no-nonsense attitude that’s sure to take you for a fun ride.