JAYNE CASTLE – The Chilling Deception.

Dell, paperback original. First printing, August 1986.

   Speaking of numbers of books sold, as I was in my preceding review of Richard S. Prather’s Over My Dear Body, Jayne Castle is no slouch in racking up sales, which were up to seven million in print at the time The Chilling Deception came out. (Ms. Castle is also known as Stephanie James and Jayne Ann Krentz, which also happens to be her real name.)

JAYNE CASTLE Chilling Deception

   That many of her books are romances without a hint of mystery to them makes no difference at all, especially to the IRS and other more mortal bean-counters.   [Jayne Krentz is also Amanda Quick, under which name many of her more mystery-oriented books have appeared, but she didn’t use that name until several years after this review first appeared.]

   Prompted, I assume, by the success of such TV series as Remington Steele and Moonlighting, in which the pseudo-romance between the leading characters is featured as prominently as the detective story itself, book publishers (never ones not to sense a dollar when a dollar is there) have decided to get in on the action. Hence, the second of the adventures of Guinevere Jones, exclusive secretarial assistant, and Zachariah Justis, sophisticated security specialist.

   They have a romance going — or more properly, perhaps, an affair — and in between trying to help their combined client in this book out from whatever trouble he is in — he won’t tell them — Guinevere is trying to pin Zach down as to what exactly their relationship is, and Zach, he’s simply trying to pin Guinevere down. In bed, that is.

   There is more explicit sex in this book than in Richard Prather’s, say, and nothing else could be more indicative as to how times have changed. Swooning is hardly enough for today’s readers — and I imagine I’m talking about the female half of the population, for I don’t believe many males will read this book.

   And if they do, they are likely to find the other scenes, those in which Guinevere and Zach talk (or, when they’re alone, think) about their relationship, something less than totally compelling. (I hope I’m not maligning men too much.)

   I have little idea how the aforementioned female half of the population will go for this book and this series, except to say that a track record of seven million books is quite a record to build on.

— From Mystery.File 1, January 1987 (greatly revised).

[UPDATE] 12-12-08. There were in all four books in the series. They all came out in 1986. Expanded from the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, here’s a complete list:

      o The Desperate Game (n.) Dell, pbo, June 1986.

JAYNE CASTLE Desperate Game

      o The Chilling Deception (n.) Dell, pbo, Aug 1986.
      o The Sinister Touch (n.) Dell, pbo, Oct 1986.
      o The Fatal Fortune (n.) Dell, pbo, Dec 1986.

JAYNE CASTLE Fatal Fortune

   She has her own page on the Thrilling Detective website, devoted to private eyes of all kinds, but other than that, I don’t know how successful the series was.

   Except for this. If you were to search for any of these four books on Amazon, which is where you will find the most accurate prices books are really going for, you will find only one for which the asking price is less than $22.50, and I’m willing to wager that that one book won’t last long at that price.

   Apparently none have been reprinted. If that’s so, one wonders why, as the market for Jayne Ann Krentz’s fiction seems to know no bounds. If her total was seven million books in print in 1986, one can only imagine what it is now.