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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.

Fool's Puzzle (Bennie Harper Mystery #1)

Fool's Puzzle - Earlene Fowler

Benni is trying to move on after being widowed and moving off her husband's family ranch, taking a job in town as director of the folk-art museum.  3 months into the job, she finds a co-op artist dead in one of the museum's studios and her cousin fleeing the scene. Her family loyalty and her natural stubbornness become an unmovable object resisting the new police chief's unstoppable force.


According to my shelves I read this for the first time in 2011, but wrote a nothing review of it.  I re-read it it last night/today to see if it held up to my memory of it.


Yes and no.  I found the first half dragged.  I remember a slower pace, but I wouldn't have said it dragged.  On the other hand, the writing was much more affecting than I remember; the MC Benni is a recent-ish widow in that horrible transition, when pain of loss mingles with guilt from moving on.  Fowler combines scenes of nail-spitting, verbal sparring matches between Bennie and Ortiz with quiet scenes of horribly raw pain that will choke up more susceptible readers.


The mystery plotting and the sub-plot romance are both a tad 90's cliche, but I found them both done well enough to enjoy, once things finally started moving.  I like the chemistry between Benni and Ortiz, and the murder mystery - which I didn't remember enough of - satisfyingly constructed and resolved.


I haven't felt like binge reading in longer than I can remember, but I'm definitely picking up the second in this series for a re-read straight away.


----------- Original thoughts below ----------------



I checked this one out at the library and they only had the large-print edition, which I found a bit distracting.


This was a good first, I really enjoyed it and it moved really quickly. I'd love to read more in the series.