I do admit it’s a long overdue review! I got to read it right after it was published (in August 2010, I think) and even though I was going to write up a review as soon as possible, I got swamped with work and other things and never got to do it.
And it’s a shame, actually, as this part of the Tattoo Shop Mystery series seems the most interesting and amusing one so far. Mrs. Olson grabs our attention right from the beginning and the pace gets only faster
Here, just like before, Brett Kavanaugh, a female tattoo artist based, in Las Vegas, comes across a shady thing; this time it’s a body in her car trunk. The clues left behind the murderer lead straight to her shop which makes her uneasy, of course. To make it worse, Jeff Coleman’s mother (and they are pretty closed friends by now) is missing, so it’s obvious that Brett doesn’t wait for the police force to do their job but rather prefers to step in and help them out. There are many familiar elements and situations in this one but once you accept its entertaining value, you might actually enjoy the lightness of the book.
Fast-pacing, quite surprising at times and funny plot as it is, it’s the tattoos and body modification in general that really interest me in this series and make me go back to it. Seemingly nothing changed about Brett – she makes sure to list her new tattoos (in a way that would annoy anyone seriously into body modification) and points her multiple ear piercings but there is at least one slight change in tattoos described in the book. It’s not about generic (meaningful as they are) ‘memorial’ tattoos only as Mrs. Olson throws in also some literary tattoos and shows that tattoos can also be fun and passion as it’s shown in the Dr. Seuss-based tattoo designs. Looks like Brett is doing some progress and that’s cool in my own book.
The tone of this part seems lighter, funnier and I definitely like pop-culture references sprinkled here and there – Ocean’s 11, the Rat Pack, ‘wedding industry’ in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra etc. Also, there are some references to the current economic situation in the US with the real estate crisis as well – somehow it makes the settings more real and convincing.
The characters are better drawn than before (or maybe I, as a reader, am getting to know them better?), more likeable and show more signs of a sense of humor than before.
There is still no sign of more modern forms of body modification: no split tongues, no stretched ears, not even septums or labrets but I can have my hopes and I know that there’s at least one more part of the series to come, so maybe in this one a random young guy (or gal) will waltz into the Painted Lady and, while asking about tattoos, will make Brett comment on his/ her interesting modifications. Who knows?
To sum this very brief review up, ‘Driven to Ink’ makes for a nice read-up and will definitely make you smile a few times and kill the time during a sleepless night (the chapters are short and pretty much all of them end on a very surprising note which makes you go on with reading!). Sometimes it’s good to have just fun instead of pondering on high-brow stuff only 😉
Karen E. Olson, Driven to Ink. A Tattoo Shop Mystery, Signet 2010