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True Blue Murder (African Violet Club Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition
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It started out well. I found Lilliana's health and fitness self-righteousness a little off-putting (I'm one of those senior citizens who takes a lot of meds and uses a walker, the kind of people she looks down on). However, everything else was enjoyable. At that point, I would have given the book a solid 3 stars or maybe even 4 stars.
Then we come to the utterly ridiculous ending. I don't like to read fantasy, and I don't expect a cozy mystery to suddenly become fantasy. I don't think murderers should ever be excused because the murder accomplished a greater good (which is very subjective anyway).
I seldom rate a book at less than 3 stars because if I'm not enjoying the book, I abandon it long before I've read enough to write a review. But this one snuck up on me. It wasn't until the end that the book became fantasy--and the murder justified.
If you like a fairy story and justification for murder in your cozy mysteries, you might like this one.
I'd probably award it 3 1/2 stars, if half-stars were part of Amazon's process. The writing was well-done and well-edited; I noted only two errors in grammar, and those were in characters' speeches, which is, after all, the way that people really talk. The story was intriguing, and although I'd figured out early on who the murderer was, that's probably because I've read enough cozies to know how to pick 'em. But I enjoy befriending the characters in the books I read--or else honestly despising them--and I couldn't do either with the main character (or even the supporting characters) of this book, at least not at the start of the novel. I liked her better toward the end of the book, when she finally began to show some honest emotion toward something other than her African Violets. (As an aside, the quarrel over the ownership of the new violet cultivar was interesting, but since I'd read a similar them in one of Donna Andrews' hilarious novels, I kept looking for a touch of humor that wasn't there. Totally my preference, that, and not a fault in the book.) One red herring thrown at the reader, regarding a secondary character who shows up at the store where the heroine is shopping, was either not fully explained or else I somehow missed the explanation. And I have never, in all my years of reading novels, read so many descriptions of the process of actually eating a meal! Usually when two characters meet to discuss the progress of the mystery over lunch or dinner, the reader sees the food delivered and perhaps endures with the characters an occasional interruption by wait staff. But the descriptions of every bite the characters put into their mouths through multiple mealtimes, while attempting to follow their discussion, tried my patience and really detracted from the mystery reveal. Finally, the fantasy ending of the novel flattened my enjoyment of the book. I read and enjoy sci-fi and fantasy novels, but commingling them with my cozies just doesn't appeal much to me.
All in all, an interesting novel, and because it was well-written, I might read some of the author's other books. But I probably won't add it to my "favorite authors" shelf.
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