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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.

Black Amber

Black Amber - Phyllis A. Whitney

Oh, Ms. Whitney, you had me.  You had me for the first 265 pages and then it all fell apart in what should have been the best scene, amidst a ruined palace in the middle of a thunderstorm.  To add insult to injury, the romantic entanglement's conclusion was really... unsatisfactory.


I don't care if the book was written in 1965 - Tracy spent the entire book being independent, wilful and unwilling to put up with being treated disrespectfully, only to completely turn into a mindless noodle in the last two pages.  He doesn't even ask her to marry him, he just tells her and she just simpers.

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But for those first 265 pages the story is great - a slow building of suspense, a sort of creepy house, lots of creepy residents.  Tracy isn't the only person who has no clue what is going on around her; she has the reader for company.  The story builds for both reader and Tracy at the same time and it goes in completely unexpected directions.  


There are many readers out there that won't find page 266 so ruinous (trigger warning: animal cruelty) and they'll likely find the story to be a delightful surprise considering its romantic suspense category.  It's a good story overall, but Whitney wrote an even better one with Window on the Square, and she didn't have to resort to such a cheap device to elicit the same thrill of horror.


Black Amber is definitely one of her better crafted novels, with evidence throughout of the even better stories she was capable of writing.  It's definitely worth a read for anyone who can handle depictions of animal violence.  Me - I ultimately didn't like it.  I'll keep reading Whitney, but I'll definitely research her other books a hell of a lot more closely first from here on out.