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A Pinch of Poison Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1995
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The writing was good enough that I easily checked-in at the reception desk, and was happily ensconced throughout the plot as an invisible observer, sometimes chuckling at character shenanigans, sometimes wide-eyes at crisp realism in a cozy culinary.
The ambiance of plot, characters, descriptions, and dialogue were so seamless I didn't notice them; I felt as if I were unlocking my room's door with a personal key each time I reopened the covers of the book. That type of seamlessness is a feat, even for a wordsmith, since most novels slip into "effort" at least once in a while and the reader can feel the writer's presence as the author works to be intriguing, diddles with dialogue, or pulls on reserves to pen with panache (like I'm doing here!).
Bishop seems to have perked right along, living in her story, rambling through a manuscript with her characters, as one of them (Quill). Love the exchanges between the sisters (Quill and Meg) and other characters; all the book's residents feel to be very homo-sapiens, yet they border (giving great fun to the reader) on being caricatures. I could almost see the characters strutting across pages, or shambling, in the case of Hedrick, "this journalist" who could definitely step out of A PINCH OF POISON and into a comic book without a paper glitch.
The second murder scene was rivetingly realistic, one of the best I've read in a mystery. It was simply, chillingly, graphically narrated with the deft pen (excuse the unseemly simile) of a gourmet chef wielding a razor-edged butcher knife, including only the balsamic necessity of the essence of the event. It reminded me of a death scene in another great novel I'll hold in my hands one day.
The ending pulled an intriguing, Agatha Christie type of Murder of Roger Ackroyd, in which the culprit is beyond what would be anticipated in detective fiction, yet fully acceptable within parameters of plot. I don't see any flaws in this mystery. But, then, I love great escape novels, and seem to have a knack of picking out those works which become, for me, the Five Starred feats among the offerings.
Thank you, Claudia!!
Linda G. Shelnutt
Although I've enjoyed the series, I almost feel that the characters have become stagnate. There haven't been many new characters introduced to the series to revitalize Hemlock Falls and the Quilliam sisters seem to have fallen into a predictable pattern. For all three books in the series, Quill has been agonizing over her relationship with the sheriff and Meg has just been stomping about the kitchen. The ending also seemed quite farfetched and slightly stolen from a famous mystery author (no further spoilers, I promise!). Overall, this is a decent, casual read for those who enjoy cozy mysteries.