Official Review: Practice the Jealous Arts

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ViziVoir
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Official Review: Practice the Jealous Arts

Post by ViziVoir » 09 Apr 2018, 11:56

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Practice the Jealous Arts" by Delia C. Pitts.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Practice the Jealous Arts by Delia C. Pitts consists of two short novellas. Each novella follows Rook and Brina, members of the Ross Agency security firm. While their romantic relationship isn't the focus of either story, it does see some effective development as time goes on. The first novella is a spin on a rather traditional murder mystery plot; Rook must solve a string of murders that revolve around Harlem Select, an elite private school. In the second novella, Rook and Brina are hired as security for a reclusive shoemaker and his daughters.

Pitts brings a new and refreshing voice to the murder mystery genre. All of her plot elements play out in the dramatic pseudo-realism so common to the noir genre, but the characters are very nuanced and never feel like caricatures. Her descriptions straddle the line between poetic and prosaic with ease, painting mental pictures without being overly verbose. The first novella takes place in an urban environment, while the second takes place in a rural countryside. Both settings feel like a natural part of the story, and it's clear that Pitts is very comfortable writing about each environment.

While the main character is a man, the female characters are written like actual women, rather than props to further their male counterparts' stories. I realized after finishing the book that, with one minor exception, I had no idea what the women's breasts looked like! That practically never happens with stories written by male authors. Pitts also does a great job writing a variety of African American characters, which only makes sense, as she is a woman of color herself.

While there wasn't anything I personally found to dislike in either story, the topics Pitts covered are extremely dark. The stories explore two inventive ways that jealousy can cause someone's death. In order to give her characters reasonable motives for going to this extreme, the book deals with heavy subjects that range from adultery to abuse. While Rook's actions are sympathetic, they very often fall into a moral gray area. This book is absolutely not for people who are sensitive to these topics or who prefer mysteries that are resolved tidily after the culprit is found.

I would absolutely recommend this book to any fans of the murder mystery genre who aren't put off by the factors I listed above. It's also a great book to pick up if you want to support stories by African American or female authors. The writing style is unique, the characters are interesting and varied, and the mysteries themselves are very well-executed, with more focus on moral quandaries than simply piecing together clues. For these reasons, I rate Practice the Jealous Arts 4 out of 4 stars.

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Practice the Jealous Arts
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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Apr 2018, 07:50

" I had no idea what the women's breasts looked like! "

I'm sorry, but that just made me laugh out loud! I have read books like that where that's pretty much the only description you get of the women, so I'm glad that this author does a bit better than that. Sounds like you really enjoyed the book. Thanks!
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Post by MsTri » 11 Apr 2018, 10:25

Well, man! You had me until you mentioned that the endings aren't necessarily tied up!

I really love this genre and like the idea that the stories include non-cliché women. I'm also intrigued by the idea of the crimes being related to jealousy. So now I'm torn... Perhaps I'll read this when I have nothing else going on and therefore don't mind spending the time on what may end up being slightly disappointing... In any event, thanks so much for the great and thorough review!

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Post by Libs_Books » 12 Apr 2018, 09:34

ViziVoir wrote:
09 Apr 2018, 11:56
Pitts brings a new and refreshing voice to the murder mystery genre. All of her plot elements play out in the dramatic pseudo-realism so common to the noir genre, but the characters are very nuanced and never feel like caricatures. Her descriptions straddle the line between poetic and prosaic with ease, painting mental pictures without being overly verbose. ...While the main character is a man, the female characters are written like actual women, rather than props to further their male counterparts' stories.... Pitts also does a great job writing a variety of African American characters, which only makes sense, as she is a woman of color herself.
All this sounds terrific, so I think I may give this one a go, despite what you say about the endings not being all that neat.

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Post by crediblereading2 » 12 Apr 2018, 18:30

The review is thorough and shows all the contrasting points. I like the message of jealousy that the author has put forward. Many persons have overlooked these issues in life. This book is rather interesting.

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Post by ViziVoir » 12 Apr 2018, 20:23

Libs_Books wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 09:34
All this sounds terrific, so I think I may give this one a go, despite what you say about the endings not being all that neat.
I meant "neat" mostly in the context of "neat and tidy" - when the bad guy is found out, they don't go straight to jail, with Scooby-Doo-style resentful rambling. The endings are messy, replete with moral quandaries. I really can't recommend this book enough, though, so I'd encourage you to check it out!

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Post by Libs_Books » 13 Apr 2018, 01:45

ViziVoir wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 20:23
Libs_Books wrote:
12 Apr 2018, 09:34
All this sounds terrific, so I think I may give this one a go, despite what you say about the endings not being all that neat.
I meant "neat" mostly in the context of "neat and tidy" - when the bad guy is found out, they don't go straight to jail, with Scooby-Doo-style resentful rambling. The endings are messy, replete with moral quandaries. I really can't recommend this book enough, though, so I'd encourage you to check it out!
Oh, I do love a good moral quandary! It's on the list. Thanks.

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Post by joshfee77 » 24 Apr 2018, 02:09

Sounds like a couple of great murder mysteries! One of my favourite genres, and I am a big fan of quality writing, prose which elevates itself "above the average" - simple, elegant and descriptive. Authors who do it well are a pleasure to read. Thanks for a detailed and descriptive review.

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Post by JusCally » 02 May 2018, 09:39

I'm making a note to check this one out. Personally, I like an ending that leaves a few stones unturned, provided there are no gaping plot holes. Judging from your excellent review, this book sounds well-considered and engrossing. The lack of boob objectification is a big plus too! Thanks!

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Post by Ruba Abu Ali » 09 Sep 2018, 11:57

This is a sequel to the first book in the Ross Agency Series. The author does a fantastic job in forming her characters, and building up tension and witty twists. Thank you for the thorough and enlightening review.

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Post by ellieonline03 » 09 Sep 2018, 12:01

Thank you for your review! This sounds like an engrossing read. I love mystery novels with a dark twist in it. It makes things more believable and exciting for me.
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Post by Lunastella » 09 Sep 2018, 12:02

ViziVoir wrote:
09 Apr 2018, 11:56
While the main character is a man, the female characters are written like actual women, rather than props to further their male counterparts' stories. I realized after finishing the book that, with one minor exception, I had no idea what the women's breasts looked like! That practically never happens with stories written by male authors. Pitts also does a great job writing a variety of African American characters, which only makes sense, as she is a woman of color herself.
This a great accomplishment and, as you mention, is quite rare. I understand the topics are gruesome, but it seems like the author is talented and I´m interested in this "refreshing voice" that you mention, since sometimes when you read so many mysteries as I do, it seems like there´s nothing new under the sun.
You made a very compelling review, thank you.

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Post by chapter-one » 09 Sep 2018, 12:03

This sounds like a great read: a duo of mystery novellas with nuanced characters that stray from the clichés of the genre.

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Post by gali » 09 Sep 2018, 12:06

A mystery revolving a string of murders sounds intriguing. Round characters, good descriptions, and unique writing make a good read. Not sure it is for me due to the dark themes, messy ending, and the slight spoilers in your review about the motives. Thank you for your review!
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Post by Mely918 » 09 Sep 2018, 12:26

I love murder mystery novels, especially ones that discuss dark and serious topics. This book seems like it would be right up my alley. I like that the author is bold enough to touch on subjects such as abuse and adultery. It's also great to see the diversity she includes in her story, both in race and gender. I like that the author makes the female character realistic and has her truly contribute to the plot rather than just being a sidekick to the male protagonist. I definitely would like to read this book for all these reasons. Thank you so much for your well-written review!

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