Hand In Glove (Harlequin Intrigue, #59) - Anne Stuart I think the cover of The Notorious Anne Stuart's Hand in Glove sums up this WTF crapfest of nonsense perfectly. Let's examine it, shall we? You have one of the Sweet Valley High twins (thanks, Audrey!), probably Jessica because Jessica was The Worst (TM) 99% of the time, clinging to a furrow-browed man who I can only assume is her father or a child predator. And why is Jessica scared? Well, for one, she's standing in a fucking warehouse with a creepster in a golf shirt. But also, check out the tormentors to her left. PUPPETS! Creepy, demon-possessed puppets. The purple one is actually connected to a disembodied arm, its wretched fangs exposed to the world, and it looks like it just murdered a girl puppet by the way she's all splayed out and terrified. Strangely, Jessica doesn't seem to be aware of the carnage literally RIGHT BESIDE HER. She's looking off into the distance ... somewhere, scared about ... something. But she never once notices what's staring her right in her vapid little face!

My friends, this is how the main character, Judith Daniels, behaves for the entire book. She is so dumb that flies can buzz in one ear and out the other. She is so vain that she thinks this song is about her. She is so awful that even NAZIS can't make her sympathetic. Oh, this book was a doozy. I read it at the recommendation of some snickering GR friends, who basically told me, "You'll hate yourself for reading this, but you have to do it!" Well, I do hate myself now, but I hate this book more, damn it! I really don't know how this book ever got published. Sure, it was the 80s, but I can't imagine a decade that would tolerate a murder mystery romance about a murderous puppet factory. Granted, the book could have been decent if written as a comedy. But no, Hand in Glove is dead serious about its Jim Henson-on-hallucinogens premise. This book is BAD. HORRIBLE. ATROCIOUS.

My god, I think my brain is still oozing out of my ears. BLAME THE PUPPETS!

Not these puppets. These puppets are cool.

Fix-it columnist Judith Daniels decides to go all Nancy Drew after her childhood friend Lacey ends up dead at Jim Henson-lite Ryan Smith's Puppet Factory. Judith is suspicious because Lacey called her hours before her death in a panic saying that Ryan Smith was trying to kill her. So like any responsibile citizen, Judith keeps that information to herself and decides to pack up, get a job at the Puppet Factory, and investigate the sitch for a story like a SERIOUS JOURNALIST. Of course, the minute Judith sets foot in the Puppet Factory, everyone hates her because she's Bryn Mawr educated (which is apparently something people care about), gorgeous, and basically Grace Kelly without any of the grace or common sense. Because Judith looks just like Grace Kelly. It's mentioned a couple times. No big deal.

Anyway, Judith meets puppet magnate (lol) Ryan Smith, who's totes hot but a huge douche to her. He automatically knows what Judith's up to because he actually LISTENED when Lacey talked to him, unlike Judith, who callously brushed off Lacey's fears of being murdered. Then they share all sorts of adorable scenes where they argue and flirt and give each other scorching gazes. Judith keeps snooping around in peoples' stuff because she believes calling herself an investigative journalist gives her some sort of immunity badge to be a nosy cow, and each time Ryan catches her because Judith's about as subtle in her investigating as a marching band made up entirely of cymbals.

The Puppet Factory has a big problem because Hideous Harry the Hippo wants to kill all the whores. Hideous Harry the Hippo is a puppet. No, I'm not kidding. You see, at the Puppet Factory, the puppeteers are collectively kind of - oh, how do you say it - batshit insane, and they communicate as the puppets all the time. So one of the puppeteers has clearly lost his bananas (this shouldn't surprise anyone) and is on a murder-spree to cleanse Ryan's world of DIRTY WHORES. Will the hero of this story, Hideous Harry the Hippo, succeed in killing everyone? Or will horrible cow Judith and Grade-A douche Ryan have some extremely boring sex and prevail?

Pictured: A real American hero

I figured out who the villain behind Harry the Hippo was right off the bat. It was so blindingly obvious that Judith's brain-numbing stupidity made me want to punch things. Judith is such a cow in this book. Good god. She's a judgmental shrew, a lying liar, a dumbass, and a self-absorbed twit. "Oh, look at me, I'm a wealthy and privileged moron with an inflated ego who (allegedly) looks like Grace Kelly. Watch me play Nancy Drew for 250 pages and prove that wealthy inbreeding has diminished every last brain cell in my head. I'm the worst! Tee-hee!" And just when I thought the wangst and lying couldn't get any worse, Stuart dropped a NAZI-bomb on us. I suppose that no godawful abomination of a book is complete without fucking Nazis.

If you want quotes from the story, just read my numerous status updates. I swear Stuart dropped a WTF-bomb on every page. Between all the plot insanity and Judith being a goddamn mess, all kinds of random tidbits and prejudices were sprinkled throughout the text. Near the end, it was like a truckload of Deus Ex Machinas rolled over on its way to a good story and drenched Hand in Glove in even more insane plot points.

This book, for brief moments, made me wish I couldn't read.

It was that bad.