TOO RICH - Melissa Chan
Little housework first - Melissa Chan is a pseudonym for Dr Jocelynne Scutt, Australian feminist lawyer, writer and commentator. TOO RICH was published in 1991 by Spinifex Press, and I distinctly remember when reading it originally at the time of publication, feeling somewhat "cause battered" by the end of the book.
Re-reading it again, some observations remained constant, some became more finely attuned with the passing years. The constant is that whilst nobody could possibly object to the righteousness of the feminist message being delivered, particularly given the time in which the book was originally published, the message gets lost in the delivery. The problem is with the stridency, which, with the passing of years, I can now articulate more clearly. TOO RICH is falling way too short of show, don't tell. Tell is not strong enough - it is, to be frank, rather on the shouty side. Made me profoundly uncomfortable then, makes me even more so now. Particularly as the more finely attuned observation with the passage of time is inconsistency. Whilst hammering away with the messages of affirmative action, TOO RICH has a plot which is extremely clichéd. We've got the chubby, slightly "unacceptably" wealthy, nouveau rich, working class done good, battered wife; versus the gorgeous, thin, attractive, gold digging girlfriend. We've got a message which is trying to say something real and pertinent about the difficulties that abused and battered women have in getting their life back on track, alongside some mindless prattle about Lady this, and society event that, and off to Hong Kong and Paris for the weekend shopping. We've got the one dimensional daughter married to the vacuous son of the landed gentry, the all hope lost drunken disappointment son, versus the abused but worthy daughter who rejects her background....
Worse than that, we've got the pointless pairing of the heart of gold cop, and the determined independent Feminist detective, for absolutely no apparent reason, other, one assumes, than to make some sort of statement about the lack of women in the upper echelons of police detecting at the time. Or something. Frankly I'm grasping for reasons.
Add to that a series of red herrings that whiffed, and TOO RICH was. For taste - not body size or bank balance.
When one of the richest men in Sydney is found dead in his penthouse, feminist detective Francesca Miles teams up with Inspector Joe Barnaby to catch the killer. They find themselves in a mystery that follows the trials and tribulations of a family that should have everything money can buy.