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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.

Staged to Death (Caprice De Luca Mystery, #1)

Staged to Death - Karen Rose Smith

Caprice De Luca is a real estate stager and while helping her friend, Roz, stage her mansion, they find Roz's husband dead with a dagger in his back.  Roz is the prime suspect, of course, and Caprice feels she must find the murderer to help clear Roz's name.


Not a bad first in a new series, but I have issues with it.


We'll start with the negative and end with the positive:


1.  Another example of third person narrative that just isn't done as well as it could be.  The language just felt unnatural to me and the narrative kept pulling me out of the story.  I was beginning to think I just didn't like third person POV, but then DH pointed out several very good examples of third person used so seamlessly that I don't even notice it.


2.  A small thing that doesn't deserve to be bolded, and it's all me:  I kept seeing "Caprice" and reading "Capice".  Ugh!  Drove myself crazy with that one...


3.  MC.  I didn't warm to this woman.  The author tried to give her a tragic dating history that justified the chip on her shoulder about men, but it fell flat with me.  It felt like she (Caprice) is out to punish all men for the sins of two men; neither of which really topped the charts in dramatic breakups.  I wasn't buying it.


4.  Blatant sexism anyone?  I'm not a feminist and have been accused more than once of actually being sexist against my own gender.  I'm not, but that's a discussion for when I'm not reviewing a cozy mystery.  Still there were several comments made in this book that left me thinking "excuse me?" to myself and if I noticed them... well.  One example:


"I'm not sure your reasoning made logical sense.  But then I've found lots of women's reasoning doesn't."


Really?  Women have cornered the market on illogical reasoning?  Ok, sure.  This was said by the man who is being set up as the long term love interest, someone we're supposed to want the MC with, and he's saying it to Caprice.  And this is written by a woman going by the author name on the cover, which isn't always a clear indication, I know.  There wasn't a lot of this kind of thing, but what there was of it stood out.


What I did like:


I like the sister dynamic.  I'm not close with my siblings (massive age gaps), so I like to live vicariously through happy, healthy, close sibling relationships in my books.  :)


The mystery was well done.  There were big, BIG motives in this book.  One of them might have been a tad overambitious, and maybe a little bit under-researched, but nothing that detracted from the enjoyment of the plot.  The end was skirting the line with TSTL, but overall, in comparison with most other cozies, Caprice was downright cautious.  This is a mystery where neither the MC nor the reader has the information to determine the killer until the end.  That bothers some, but I sort of like it.


The book held my attention.  At the end of the day, sometimes that's a feat in an of itself.  Except for a moment in the middle when I had to force myself to pick it up (there was a lot of internal dialog I just skipped over and my attention wandered) and keep reading, I was interested in the story enough to find out what happened next.  Because of this, I'll read the second one and see where Caprice goes from here.