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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.

Whack Job (Elliot Lisbon, #2)

Whack Job - Kendel Lynn

I received this book as an arc via NetGalley and Henery Press in exchange for an honest review.


Whack Job is the follow up to Agatha Award nominated (for best first book in a series) Board Stiff and I'm relieved to find it doesn't suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump.


I'll borrow from the books description for a summary (I couldn't do it better or heaven knows, more concisely):  


Elliott Lisbon blends her directorship of the Ballantyne Foundation with her PI-in-Training status by planning parties and performing discreet inquiries for charitable patrons. But when the annual Wonderland Tea Party makes everyone go mad as a hatter, Elli gets pulled into a shooting, a swindle, and the hunt for a Fabergé egg.


I had fun reading this book - great fun!  Elliot is smart, independent, and sometimes delightfully mouthy.  If someone pushes her, she pushes back; none of this dainty southern nonsense. She's a little bit of a germophobe, maybe a little OCD, but neither quirk ever overwhelms the story, thank goodness.  In fact, knowing what the reader does about Elliot's aversion to germs makes some of the scenes in this book all the more cringe worthy and humorous.  I do have to believe she is rather well paid though; she'd have to be to keep ahead of the ongoing destruction to her wardrobe.


The mystery plot itself is very well done.  We have a man desperate to find his egg, a murder and many mysterious, shady dealings going down.  Elliot is proactive and decisive, although oftentimes her progress is made in spite of herself, and I can think of at least one semi-TSTL moment.  (I say "semi" because I sort of understood the assumptions she was acting on.)  I can't say there were lots of suspects; there were enough, but the story itself was busy; there's a lot going on and I think the pacing kept me from ever really trying to figure out who the killer was.  I just wanted to read what happened next.  I stayed up way too late reading this book because I was having so much fun.


Ms. Lynn is a skilled writer and even though this is an arc, I found very few errors or even typo's.  The book rarely dips its toes into the deeper emotions but when Elliot is confronted with the potential loss of a best friend, her fear and longing is clear.  When she describes the death of her parents, it feels sincere, though never maudlin.  But the clear focus of the writing is humour and it's done with a deft hand; light, believable and never slapstick, even when it could be and would be at the hands of another writer.  Are there some magic saves here and there?  Sure - Elliot saves the day at the very last second a couple of times, but I don't care if this is realistic or not.  I want to believe it is.


So, this sounds like a 4.5/5 star review doesn't it?  Well, I'm not giving it that last star because the author is toying with a love triangle and I don't like it.  She's given me two very likeable men, both maybe vying for Elliot's attention.  I don't want to watch this play out over the series - I hate love triangles.  So I'm withholding that last star.  A quick resolution and the same engaging, high quality storytelling will make the next book a certain 5 star read.  I can't wait!