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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Legend of Sleepy Harlow (League of Literary Ladies)

The Legend of Sleepy Harlow - Kylie Logan

It's been my personal experience that with most good series', the first book is never quite as good as the next few; it pretty much has to serve as a series setup, a character and setting info-dump and maybe the author doesn't quite know the characters very well yet.  So I always try to cut the first book a bit of slack.  


That hasn't been the case at all with Kylie Logan's League of Literary Ladies series.  Mayhem at the Orient Express was an outstanding first in a new cozy series.  It's one of the few (only?) modern cozies I closed and thought "wow, that was really clever".  She might have set the bar a bit high for herself.


But all that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the heck out of The Legend of Sleepy Harlow - I did, I thought it was a great read once I got into it.  Ms. Logan has a really great cast of characters, all of them (except the male romantic interest) strong, independent, smart women.  The MC, Bea has a past she's hiding from, but she controls the parameters of her hiding.  The romantic interest, Levi, has his own secrets and honestly, if the author doesn't give them up to us soon I'm gonna get narky.  She's being too stingy with details.  


Also, let me state for the record now, that Bea is FX O'Grady and this has been my assertion from the first book.

(show spoiler)


So, why wasn't this book as good as the first?  The murder plot.  I'm not saying it wasn't well done, but the killer was telegraphed early on so that while there were more than a couple viable suspects throughout, the ultimate reveal wasn't a surprise.  (Mayhem's plot was a corker - it's revelations at the end were a bit of a slap upside my head in the best way.)


If an author introduces 8 characters but singles one out as an underdog and makes a point to elicit the MC's and the reader's sympathies, it's a dead giveaway.  Plus, too much attention was paid to this person's accessories and nobody else's.

(show spoiler)


There's a sub-plot, the legend of local bootlegger and mobster Sleepy Harlow. Killed and beheaded by mobsters in 1930, legend has his ghost being seen around the island and the local librarian has written a history on him, soon to be published by an academic press.  Bea's inadvertent involvement with the book has her delving into Sleepy's history at the same time the ghost hunters arrive trying to catch evidence of Sleepy's ghost.  The culmination of this sub-plot was excellent; this is where the author excelled with the story.  I loved it and it more than made up for the fact that the murderer was easily identifiable.


I love this series and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a cozy mystery; this one is better written than most and I'm really looking forward to the next one.