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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.

Arsenic with Austen

Arsenic with Austen - Katherine Bolger Hyde

First in a new series, and first by a new author, but ultimately disappointing.


When Emily Cavanaugh inherits a fortune from her great aunt, she expects her life to change. She doesn't expect to embark on a murder investigation, confront the man who broke her heart 35 years before, and nearly lose her own life.


It started off strong with a great premise and all the pieces were there: independent, English Lit professor, widowed without heavy emotional baggage, older but not middle age.  In the first third of the book it felt like it would be a 4 star read.


After that first third though, I found that while the writing is technically very good, it lacked a subtly and sophistication that became more and more apparent; it felt like a mature story written for a middle grader.  By the half-way mark the book was down to a solid three: I was still enjoying the plot, but not the writing.


The last third though... Several things became harder to ignore for me.  I'm typically ambivalent about insta-love, but Emily and Luke have not laid eyes on each other in 35 years, separated by a big Misunderstanding and a little conspiracy, but they are instantly in love again after meeting at her aunt's funeral - before they even get the big Misunderstanding sorted out.  They acted like teenagers, and I kept picking up this feeling that she was being a tease because she wasn't using her words.  Emily worries that her friend is going to steal her boyfriend too, which felt childish.  Add to this that by this time, Emily and Luke's wild speculations about who was guilty, with Emily trying to solve it based on the plots of classic literature, just got silly and I was down to 2.5 stars.


Finally, the last couple of chapters - out of nowhere - went suddenly super Christian.  I don't mind general references of a character's faith - I'm Christian myself - but when it becomes to heavy handed, I'm out.  And at the point where Emily has a dream telling her to not only forgive the killer or killers but offer to pay for the defence, it was officially heavy handed.


This and the fact that the plot, though it had potential, fell apart (there really isn't any mystery about who is guilty) and I was down to a generous 2 stars.  Which is really doubly disappointing because I had really high hopes for this book and it started out so promising, but I'm really doubtful I'll be reading the next one.