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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.

Suede to Rest (Material Witness Mystery, #1)

Suede to Rest - Diane Vallere

Not without it's faults, but a strong start to a new series.


When Poly Monroe was little, she loved playing in her family’s textile store. But after a fatal tragedy, Land of A Thousand Fabrics was boarded up and Poly never expected to see the inside again. Now, as inheritor of the shuttered shop, she’s ready to restore the family business.  Not everyone wants Poly back in San Ladrón, but even when the threats turn deadly, she’s not ready to bolt. Because Poly is beginning to suspect that the murder behind the shop is tied to a mystery in her family’s past that she’s determined to solve…


I'm not sure if I like Poly or not; her reactions are, well, reactive - she doesn't strike me at all as take-charge or rational.  That sounds like a condemnation, but it isn't: Poly's bombarded upon her arrival by people and events.  She struck me as shell-shocked, and that made her reactive behaviour believable to me; it also explained her careening around town like a pinball as events heated up.  Her treatment of Vaughn, however...  By the end of the book it started to feel like she was kicking a puppy.  The author would have been more successful reigning in this lack of trust as it started looking like paranoia instead and Poly lost my empathy.  


The rest of the cast of characters were really well done: I want to know more about a lot of them.  San Ladrón needs some work; the author has the town pretty distinctly divided: residents are either angelic or they're asses.


The mystery involved a cold case murder and a modern day murder.  The author wanted to involve long kept family secrets to add an element of drama, and it should have worked – but it didn't, at least not for me.  I didn't understand the level of betrayal Poly felt over the secrets her parents kept; they just weren't that earth-shattering.  But on Poly's side, I didn't get why her parents felt like those were secrets worth keeping, either.  The whole thing had a tempest-in-a-teacup feel about it.


Which brings me to the denouement:  The murderer was not obvious and the plotting/pace was good.  But the motivation for the murderer?  Lame!  This person would have had to have been a true psychopath to commit these crimes for these reasons (man, writing gender-neutral is a bitch!), and the author just didn't sell it.  At least, not to me.  The motivation to commit either crime just wasn't strong enough.


I did like this book though - I swear!  It was the kind of book I didn't have to struggle to lose myself in.  The author writes very well; I just felt like she tried to force a couple of things so they just didn't work.  Might just be me though.


I'll definitely check out the next book - I'm interested in getting to know Poly once she has her grip back and she's in control.