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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.

The Tea-Olive Bird Watching Society

The Tea-Olive Bird-Watching Society - Augusta Trobaugh

I bought this book from a Friends of the Library shop in Florida, because the title grabbed me, and the synopsis said it was a blackly hilarious take on Arsenic and Old Lace.


It probably is (a take on Arsenic and Old Lace).  And it's not bad.  But it's not great either.  It's a story that plays on, and exaggerates in small ways, the eccentricity that is often found in small towns in the Deep South (USA).  These are all Good Christian Women (though the book isn't at all oriented toward 'being Christian') who have all been graced with names straight out of the Bible (Zion, Beulah and Sweet - from the hymn Sweet by and by) and have all grown up together.  Sweet finds herself in a late-in-life marriage to a man that turns out to be a violent abuser, and Beulah and Zion take it upon themselves to graciously and politely do away with him before he does away with Sweet.


The elements are all there for a great story, but I found it a tad tedious.  It felt like it took forever to get going, though as I look at it know, it was only 60 pages in that Sweet finds herself suffering the consequences of a hasty marriage and Zion and Beulah start plotting. If the domestic violence isn't a trigger warning, there is the aftermath of a horrible incident involving a pet canary that the main character Beulah kept bring up again and again.  The first telling of it was bad enough but I almost DNF'd the book because she just kept bringing it up again and again. 


The ending is ambiguous, which is fine, but the author stressed the ambiguousness of the ending too strongly so that by the last page I was muttering 'yeah, yeah, I get it - we'll never know' to myself.  


It wasn't a bad book; I wasn't scrambling to read it, but I wasn't avoiding it either.  It's very readable.  It just isn't as gripping a story as it could have been had the characters and pacing been a bit more balanced.