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jenn

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.

Book of Beloved (Pluto's Snitch, #1)

The Book of Beloved - Carolyn Haines

I'm a big fan of Carolyn Haines' Sarah Booth Delaney mysteries, so I was excited to see that she was starting a new historical mystery series, but said excitement was tempered by the fact that she was publishing with Thomas & Mercer for this one, not St. Martin's.

 

I have no idea why St. Martin's didn't publish it, but it wasn't because it was a bad story or concept.  The story was excellent.  A ghost story set in Mobile, Alabama in 1920.  Haines is the first writer to really make me realise just how close the Civil War was to World War I; a mere 60 years separated the two.  I always knew this in an academic sense, but I never really thought about the idea that people lived through both.  Haines also does an incredible job of putting the reader in the deep south in the early 1920's, with all that that implies.  I tagged this as cozy because 90% of it is, but the racial issues running throughout the story aren't cozy at all and Haines does the unthinkable for a cozy author by killing off at least one beloved character.

 

The plot also gets points for freshness; talk about your deep, dark secrets!  I'm not going to say what it is, not even in a spoiler because it would ruin the unexpectedness.  I thought it was clever, interesting, and between it and the ghosts my attention was riveted.

 

The bug in my iced tea?  I have come to expect a certain polished writing style from Haines that wasn't quite up to snuff here.  I'm thinking mediocre editors.  As good as the story was, it could have been tighter and there were definitely a few things that got missed (like the MC parking her car twice in the same paragraph).  The very end was a bit illogical too, but not disastrously so; mostly it just felt weak.  If this had been my first Haines book I don't doubt I'd have rated it higher, because it is good.  But I know what she's capable of so I know it could be better.

 

I hate buying anything that benefits Amazon, but I'll definitely be on the lookout for the next book; Haines has me hooked for at least one more.