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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.

A Brush with Death (Susie Mahl Mystery, #1)

A Brush with Death - Ali Carter

Didn't really like this book, though it wasn't the stuff of DNF.  I think a number of factors were involved, including what might be a cultural divide in terms of narrative style.


Susie Mahl is a fine artist who supplements her income by doing high-end pet portraits, something that also allows her to move amongst those that occupy the rarefied air of wealth.  While working on a commission that came about through a recommendation by Lady Greengrass to a neighbor, Lord Greengrass is murdered.  Susie is close enough to the family that Lady Greengrass calls on her to stay until the funeral, a request Susie uses as an opportunity to solve the mystery.


I'll start with the plotting; it was lacking.  There was never any question for me as to who the murderer was.  In fact:


the reader enters the scene seconds after the murder has occurred, as the murderer has just finished and so is still right there (sitting atop the victim if I remember correctly).

(show spoiler)

The whole thing was truly transparent and the author never came close to convincing me that there were any other viable suspects.


Susie Mahl, as a character, was problematic for me.  She is strong, independent and opinionated.  Things I generally like in my MCs.  But she also had an ego that often ventured into "I'm better than everyone else" territory, and I didn't care for that.  This arrogance spanned across several subjects, but the most distasteful, to me, were the multiple times she expressed her belief that she alone could solve the mystery, and the inspectors would never figure it out.  How I'd have loved to see one of those inspectors tell her they could do portraits better than she could.


Finally, the overall writing style just didn't do it for me; it felt choppy and the dialog simplistic and unnatural.  Some of this might be a cultural style, as I mentioned above, and some of it could be first-book-learning-curve, but added to my other issues, the result is a lack of desire to continue the series.


I read this as part of the 2019 Snakes and Ladders game.