cover image I Still Miss My Man But My Aim is Getting Better

I Still Miss My Man But My Aim is Getting Better

Sarah Shankman. Pocket Books, $21 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-89751-2

This departure from Shankman's popular Samantha Adams series (He Was Her Man) doesn't deliver on the promise of its clever title. There are plenty of laughs in the outrageous, rhinestone-studded story of Shelby Kay Tate, a Nashville waitress hoping to make it big in country-and-western music, but they don't add up to humor. Aiding Shelby in her quest are Patsy Angel, the ghost of Patsy Cline; Ann King, a crusty old lady with an ear for music; and Jeff Wayne Capshew, a police officer who, unbeknownst to him, is Patsy Angel's agent on earth. Jeff Wayne's mission is to protect Shelby from her ex-husband, Leroy Mabry, who is determined to win her back or, he determines later, to murder her. Tossed in jail for assaulting Shelby, Leroy meets Mac McKenzie, an unstable fellow who, encouraged by the evil angel Rahab, leads the gullible Leroy on a crime spree once they're out on bail and plans to enliven Shelby's important club appearance with a pistol-packin' showdown. Shankman's story lacks the central puzzle mystery readers expect. Instead, it offers a large cast of weapons-toting, mean-spirited loonies and enough coincidences to round off a Dickens novel. It's easy to see why Jeff Wayne, faced with one of the book's armed crackpots, says, ""I cannot freaking believe this."" Author tour. (Apr.)