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A Dash of Murder Paperback – September 14, 2011
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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But, for some reason, I actually had a hard time getting through this book. I started and stopped it a couple of times, read and then put it down and forgot to go back to it for a while. I couldn't figure out why. But something about it just didn't grab my attention and hold on the way a cozy normally does. Part of this might have been the length--there just wasn't enough room to go into things in as much detail or flesh things out as much in a book this short. But, I think the main thing was that there wasn't enough at stake for the main character. Usually in a cozy, the mc is drawn into the mystery because they or a loved one are accused of the crime, or it has put a stain on their business, or someone they care about was the victim. There's something that really pulls them in and forces them to get involved as their life and/or freedom (or that of someone they love) will be hugely impacted by the investigation. That didn't feel like the case here. Yes, at one point a friend of the mc is a suspect, but he's cleared pretty quickly. And yes, the victim used to be partners with her ex-husband, but that was years ago and she hasn't had any contact with either of them since and didn't seem to like the partner much to begin with. I guess I just didn't get why she was willing to risk her life (especially as the only parent of a small child) to solve this particular case, as opposed to waiting for her dad (the sheriff) to solve it.
I will also say that the ending came out of nowhere. I do like a good surprise, but I like an author to give you all the clues so you can figure out the answer to the mystery, not hit you right at the end with a ton of information you couldn't have had any way to know and that wasn't alluded to at all throughout the book. I felt a bit cheated.
That said, I do plan to try the next book in the series. I did like the characters and the town it was set in and the household hints at the end were helpful. I think the series and the author have a lot of promise and I look forward to visiting with the characters again.
Being the first book in the series the author not only has to give us a mystery but also introduce us to the characters and give us a feel for the time and place. Teresa Trent does a great job at this.
The place happens to be the abandoned Johnson Tuberculosis Hospital which would be a spooky place to me no matter what time of year it is. The idea that there may be spirits lurking enough to bring ghost hunters to investigate adds to the haunted feeling. I was nervous about any hallway Betsy ventured into and one of the surprises she did find made me drop the book for just a moment. I don’t want a spoiler here but I am not talking about a ghost or even a dead body. Something that would have made me run screaming to the nearest exit.
The characters are very engaging. I love Betsy, The Happy Hinter. She seems very down to earth and someone I could probably be friends with. Her father has his hands full with a certain person creating havoc about the ghost hunters, the Scout troop on an overnight camp out, the drama at the old hospital, a murder to solve and of course the normal Halloween hijinks. I like the way all the characters rally together and helped out however they could.
The mystery was a good one too. Plenty of the expected twists and turns. I was totally surprised by the ending.
Trent does all this in less than 150 pages which I couldn’t believe. It was a very fast read and I really enjoyed it. She has left plenty of room for the characters to grow. I am late to this party though. The 6th book in the Pecan Bayou Series, Murder for a Rainy Day was just released so I have some catching up to do.
Betsy's husband just up and left her seven years ago despite her being pregnant. He left her with tons of debt, credit collecters at her door and apparently just did not give a damned. Betsy pulled herself up by the boot straps and made a good life for herself and her son. Having her Dad and her Aunt Maggie close by for support never hurt.
When Betsy finds a dead body in part of the abandoned TB hospital the excitement just keeps on coming. How much does the new guy in town, Leo, have to do with it? Read the book and find out. You won't be sorry.
The premise is different and well-developed but though Ms Trent tries to flesh out the characters I still found them a tad flat and unconvincing. The twists added to the mystery are bumpy and abrupt,with a lack of continuity that allowed me to put the book down, but I did come back and read to the end because I wanted to know the killer.