Saturday, October 21, 2017

Book Review: 'Expired Listings' by D.M. Barr

New York author D.M. Barr has worked in travel marketing, travel journalism, meeting planning, public relations and, tellingly for this novel, real estate. After success as award-winning magazine writer and editor she became a mother and writing is her business. EXPIRED LISTINGS is her debut novel.

Subtitled ‘An Erotic Novel of Psychological Suspense” Barr is quickly recognized as a fine comedic writer with an edge on parody. In her Preface she states, ‘I know some [real estate] agents will contend that this novel tarnishes the public’s perception of the real estate industry, a profession that sadly has a 17% public level of trust, according to a recent Gallup Poll. This means it currently ranks just below lawyers but a smidgen higher than advertising execs, used car salesperson and politicians. To those protesters, I say, relax and get over yourselves. It’s a satire. I wrote it to be so over the top, no one could possibly imagine that agents kill off their problem clients or mourn the faked deaths of colleagues, just to garner public support. And if they do actually believe such fabrications, the profession’s rep was irreparably besmirched long before I set pen to paper. I also want to reiterate that the real estate characters described in Expired Listings are fictitious. I have worked in real estate for nearly two decades and I can assure you that 99.95% of all the agents I’ve met have been honest, hardworking and ethical. Thank goodness for the other .05%, who inspired some of the more outlandish exploits concocted herein. Finally, you might notice that throughout this novel, while I have capitalized titles such as Dom, Top and Sir, I have also capitalized the names of bottoms and submissives. The first is common BDSM convention and I wanted to stay true to the culture of the community. The second is actually counter to that protocol, but I felt a lack of capitalization might be too jarring to readers. My apologies.’ So before the novel starts we understand the perspective and are better prepared to enjoy it.

Barr offers her own synopsis to pull us into her story – ‘Someone is ‘deactivating’ the Realtors in Rock Canyon and almost no one seems to care. Not the surviving brokers, who consider the serial killings a competitive boon. Not the town’s residents, who see the murders as a public service. In fact, the only person who’s even somewhat alarmed is Dana Black, a kinky, sharp-witted yet emotionally skittish Realtor who has no alibi for the crimes because during each, she believes she was using her empty listings for games like Bondage Bingo with her sadistic lover, Dare. And yet, mysteriously, all clues are pointing her way. Along with clearing her name and avoiding certain death at the hands of the ‘Realtor Retaliator,’ Dana has an even bigger problem: she’s inadvertently become a person of interest in more ways than one to Aidan Cummings, the sexy albeit vanilla detective investigating the case. While his attentions are tempting, Dana is torn—does she continue her ironically ‘safe’ but sterile BDSM relationship with Dare, or risk real intimacy with Aidan?’

Barr has taken a series of topics – a satire of corruption in business, mystery, and BDSM and ‘the universal need for validation and the toxic nature of revenge’ and proves herself to be a hugely successful new writer. She possesses a rich imagination and seems to gain great glee in sharing that trait by offering a novel that has something for every reader – from consumers of mysteries to addicts of erotica and those who love to be immersed in parody. Every page explodes with dark humor and some fine pokes at established thoughts. Keep an eye on her – she is blooming. Grady Harp, October 16
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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