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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.

All Natural Murder (Blossom Valley Murder #2)

All Natural Murder - Staci McLaughlin

This series is not for me. This book has sealed it.


I love the premise: an organic farm and spa. Unfortunately, that's about all that I really like and even that is done is such a way as to make it as disinteresting as possible, with organic meals that are as out-there and unappetizing as possible and a hotel manager written to be as big an ass as possible.


The murder plot itself was very nicely done - the author did a very good job of misleading the reader (or at least, me) as to motives and suspects and the ultimate culprit was not one that was on my radar.


But cozy mysteries are in large part character driven and I don't think there's a character in this entire book I liked or cared about. Dana's not unlikeable as the protagonist, but it seems a bit as though she's just going through the motions. There isn't much about her that feels proactive.


Her sister Ashlee is just too stupid to be believed. We're supposed to buy a 20-something that acts at every single turn like a 14 year old? Ugh!  The fact that both girls still live at home makes her immaturity that much more unseemly and obvious. Seriously, this character is written as though she's developmentally stunted.


Jason, the love interest plays an extremely small part in this book and the part he does play certainly doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about the relationship, or caring about seeing it develop further. I was intrigued by the detective in the first book but he was only mentioned once or twice in this book and did not make an appearance at all.


Finally this poor book suffers by committing two "sins" that drive me crazy:

1. pages and pages of internal dialogue and introspection. I freely admit to skimming or skipping a good 25% of this book and I can honestly say I didn't miss anything pertinent to the plot or characterizations. Nothing.


2. The family insists that Dana "solve this murder" so her sister isn't erroneously arrested. Cozies are about the amateur sleuth, yes. And I understand it gets extremely difficult for authors to put their characters in situations where their sleuthing is inadvertent, or innocently accomplished, yet logical. But the arrogance that is implied with telling an amateur sleuth "you must solve this murder" because the police can't, that's a turn-off to me.


Dana further turns me off right from the beginning of the book with the line she gives the detective investigating the murder: "I don't like to brag but..." in relation to the last mystery that took place in the first book of the series. It just felt wrong to me, turned me off, and the book just went downhill from there.