Some popular writers can be relied upon to produce consistently good (or bad) quality fiction, and other cannot. Jodi Picoult falls into the latter category. While most of her novels that I’ve read have been compelling, topical and intelligent, Salem Falls and Picture Perfect could not be more cliched. Picture Perfect tells of the marriage between an anthropologist and America’s most popular matinee idol. The book opens during the immediate aftermath of an unspecified incident that leaves the wife with amnesia (cliche #1). The police officer who rescued her is a Native American struggling to survive in the racist atmosphere of LA. He is inexplicably drawn to this woman, and can’t get her out of his mind (cliche #2.) As the plot unfolds, it is instantly apparent that all is not well within the marriage. The worried but narcissistic husband has a penchant for flying off the handle, and we suspect that he is abusive (cliche #3.) The back story centers upon how and why the Native American became a cop, and is fluffed out with several native legends, which are the highlights of the novel. Supporting characters tend toward types, such as macho cops, the bimbo best friend, and the sleazy agent from Brooklyn.
The story plays out all too predictably, and is little more than a soap opera, or a romance ala Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel. Which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s not a genre that I enjoy.