Top critical review
Surprisingly fun, wildly uneven
on November 13, 2012
I've read the author's literary novels and loved most of them so I decided to check out her early crime novels, which she doesn't seem to be too fond of now. I actually tried reading Dead Clever awhile ago but couldn't get into it. I guess I just wasn't in the mood. I'm glad I decided to give it another shot, because it definitely wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be. It started off well enough. First few chapters before Lily gets involved in sleuthing are actually good. Then it goes kind of bad for a couple of chapters, especially the chapters dealing with her teaching classes. She wasn't very good, and I wondered how low the standards at this university were! The book picks up again after that, and is actually mostly entertaining as our sleuth meets the previous lecturer (a writer of cheap horror novels), walks the shore and goes clubbing with an old friend. Towards the end, as our sleuth uncovers what's really going on and plays hero, I kind of lost interest. The villain was obvious pretty early on. I definitely enjoyed the more mundane parts of the book rather than when Lily thinks about the murder. I haven't read a mystery novel in years, so I might be biased in that regard. I also found it a little annoying how hard Lily worked to clear the name of a man she had one date with.
The writing itself was mostly okay, though it did use a lot of clichés. Her literary novels are definitely better written, but since this was her first novel, I was able to give it a pass. In the end, I'd give this book three and a half stars, rounded down to three because there's lots of room for improvement. Hopefully the other two novels in this series are a bit better. Lily was a mostly likable character, so I definitely wouldn't mind spending more time with her.