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 second book in the Val Cameron mystery series published by Henery Press, I picked this off my TBR pile without reading the back cover blurb. So it's a heck of a coincidence that my last two non-fiction reads have covered religious secret societies and Christian relics, and A Killer's Guide to Good Works is the story about... wait for it... secret religious societies and Christian relics!
There are strong shades of Da Vinci Code here and while it's marketed as a cozy, I'd definitely split hairs and call it much more a traditional mystery. There's really nothing at all light here; it's not hard-boiled but it is in many ways cold and definitely heartbreaking. What makes it readable without pulling the reader under is the MC's lack of wallowing, even when wallowing is the reasonable thing to do. There's not much more I can imagine that's as devastating as what happens to Val, but she keeps putting one foot in front of the other; not out of bravery, but because there's just nothing else she can do. The threads of her life come together as only the most fantastical fiction can, but I don't care: it makes for a ripper of a story.
My only complaint and the loss of that 5th star is a combination of writing style and editing errors. Oddly the both work together so sometimes it's hard to say when something is a style choice or an editing error but there were at least a few critical words dropped from sentences and one spot where the same sentence is repeated, both before and after a quote. Sloppy - really sloppy, and especially disappointing from Henery Press because I've always found their editing excellent. The author writes in third person, but has a unique narrative style that won't suit everyone - some might find it choppy or discordant. It took me awhile both in the first book and this one to find its rhythm, but once I did, I enjoyed it.
I hope there's a third book; I can't wait to see what she does next.