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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.

Monument to the Dead (Museum Mysteries, #4)

Monument to the Dead - Sheila Connolly

This book, and this series, make me want to bang my head against the desk while tugging on my own hair. 


Synopsis:  When Nell reads the obituary of a former board member, Adeline Harrison, she makes a mental note to send flowers and doesn’t think twice about it—until FBI agent James Morrison shares his suspicions about the nature of Adeline’s death. It turns out that a number of other members of the local cultural community have died in the last few months, under similar circumstances. Soon Nell uncovers what seems to be a plot to rid Philadelphia of harmless, elderly philanthropists—but why?


The thing is, I really like the museum setting, and I really like the way the author includes the research angle of the investigation.  I love museums and in a next life, I'd love to work in one (hopefully in my next life, museums are better funded).  The details of the museum's inner workings, therefore, are really interesting.


The plot of this book, too, was really well done.  And kudos to the author for throwing in a total red herring that I fell for completely.  It was so effective I almost quit reading the book, aggravated that the killer was so obvious.  Ha!


But, and I'm sorry to be so blunt about this, the author cannot write dialogue to save her life.  I lost count of how many times I'd be reading a conversation between the characters thinking it was friendly, when suddenly it's a snipe fight.  Wha?!?  Or else the MC would say something really nasty but it just flowed through without anyone noticing.  


While I'm on a roll, the author also comes across rather sexist (I'm sure she's not, actually).  Maybe I'm the only one who thinks this, but throughout the book most of the female characters (who are supposed to be friends, btw), while being very smart, accomplished and competent, constantly over-react, bite each other's heads off, and generally snipe at each other while James the FBI agent (and the only leading male), is always calm, cool, and patient.  Mustn't provoke the she-bears...


I also found it extremely annoying that the MC, Nell, seems to have the listening skills of your average zombie.  She was constantly, throughout the book, asking James the exact same questions, over and over and over again.  For that matter, I found several of the conversations between the characters to be agonisingly repetitive.  It occurred to me that perhaps the author was attempting to avoid excessive internal dialogue/story recaps while still actually filling her page quotas.  But no, towards the end there's a crap ton of internal dialogue.  At one point I skipped a record 5 pages and missed nothing!  Not. one. thing.  This book could have been 75-100 pages shorter and it would have been a much tighter mystery.


I honestly don't know whether to quit this series or not.  I gave up on her other series because the dialogue was off and I didn't care enough about the subject to put up with it, but think the author has a great story setup here and she has the first hand knowledge to make the details sing.  If only someone else was doing the writing....