- File Size: 339 KB
- Print Length: 152 pages
- Publisher: misterio press; 1 edition (July 30, 2017)
- Publication Date: July 30, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0739FBV26
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,586 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
A Time To Kiln: Book 2 in the Jade Blackwell Mystery Series Kindle Edition
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For me, reading A Time to Kiln as a cozy mystery didn’t quite work. Sure there’s the obligatory amateur detective, who even comes complete with cats Tommy and Tuppence (named after Agatha Christie’s crime-solving duo). (To Jade’s credit, she does not, however, knit and/or bake cupcakes.) But where Dame Agatha’s amateur sleuths are either reluctantly involved, or involved to help friends/neighbors/family, Jade decides to dig into her neighbors’ personal issues out of… boredom? As with most cozy mysteries, Jade needs to tap into local expertise, in this case long-time friends Sheriff Ross and attorney Gabrielle (who would fit the cozy role of sidekick except that she’s not a gay, fashion-conscious owner of a small dog).
I think that the biggest departure from the standard cozy mystery was that there was really only one mystery. Miss Marple would have unmasked the murderer, but she’d also find the missing brooch and perhaps assist the budding romance between the young under-gardener and the upstairs maid. That transition plays up a familiar setting, while injecting humor into the story. Without it, the amateur detective comes off, as Jade does to me, as simply a busybody digging into her neighbors’ personal business.
In trying to assign a rating, I’m a little torn. On the one hand, I enjoyed the way the story unfolded, the selection of clues and red herrings scattered for Jade (and the reader) to attempt to assemble to solve the mystery. On the other hand, I would have liked to see more interaction with other recurring characters. With possible exception of her elderly friend Phyllis, Jade’s friends and neighbors didn’t develop into fully-rounded personalities. In fact, I can only picture her husband Christian as a disembodied voice floating from behind his newspaper. Of course, this might be due to the fact that this is the second book in the series and all of these characters and relationships were fully formed in the first book, which I have to admit that I haven’t read. But even then, one of the distinct advantages of detective series is that supporting cast members have a chance to develop over time.
The other problem I have is slightly bigger. While I enjoyed sharing Jade’s detective process, I wasn’t so satisfied with the motives for the killings. Without putting in spoilers, I have to say that I was both surprised and slightly disappointed by the resolution. I didn’t see a clear reason for something that had smoldered for years to suddenly drive the murderer to act. Saying that the murderer is insane is easy, but would someone that out of touch with reality have the ability to engage in such meticulously premeditated actions?
Overall, I thought that A Time to Kiln shows a writer with great promise. It’s well-written, relatively free from grammar issues, and well-structured. I’d give it three and a half stars and I’d definitely read more from Gilian Baker. I’d love it if the next book steps out of Christie’s shadow to not only let us get to know Jade’s family and friends, but challenges Jade herself to grow and change in ways Christie’s Poirot and Marple never achieved.
*I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
FTC disclosure: I received an advanced review copy of this book from the author/publisher. This has not affected the content of my review