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Barely OK Cozy Mystery
on October 27, 2014
Have you ever gone through the books on your kindle and found some that you had no memory of buying? This was one for me. Amazon shows that I purchased it three years ago and I'm guessing that it was either free or on sale at the time. The title was interesting so I started reading it with no idea what it was.
I can understand why I would have picked this book. It has elements that I enjoy enormously- a cozy mystery, intelligent, mature protagonist, New England college setting. Plus the heroine is a math and puzzle freak like me. I should have loved it but... not so much.
There were a number of things throughout the book that I found very irritating. All of the characters seemed flat, almost caricatures. The prose was frequently awkward and situations unrealistic (You drop by a friend's store and then, without explanation, suddenly start cleaning it like Merry Maids?) Some short passages that are good examples of prose/dialogue problems:
I called my boyfriend and invited him on a date. "Unless you're completely exhausted," I added. He flexed his muscles. "Not me," he said. "And anyway, I'm moving in until this situation is resolved, remember?" I took that as a date. (He flexed his muscles on the phone?)
"I hoped you'd see it that way."
"That doesn't mean I don't agree with her."
Two negative words, like multiplying two negative numbers, gave a positive. Too bad. I'd counted on Bruce's support as I continued to work out the scenario for xxxx's murder. (OK, we get it. You're a math geek)
"I mentally rolled up the imaginary sleeves of my sleeveless knit top. Not a problem; I'd taught a whole course in imaginary numbers last year." (imaginary sleeves/imaginary numbers. Uh huh)
Worst of all, there were major logic fails that are unforgivable in a mystery. It's difficult to talk about them without including spoilers. A minor non-spoiler example: I don't think every character needs to behave in a perfectly logical way- people don't. But if you were very worried about something that could be resolved by spending a couple of dollars on reverse look up, wouldn't you do it? (Not to mention possibly solving a murder while you're at it)
This wasn't the worst mystery I've ever read by any means and I don't want to go so far as to say I didn't like it at all. I did finish it and the author included a few very simple puzzles at the end. Basically, just another book in crying need of a strong editor.
Normally I'm obsessive about reading every book in a series. If it were a freebie, I might pick up a later book to see if they get any better, but other than that I have no interest in pursuing.