Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Guidebook to Murder

Author: Lynn Cahoon
Genre: Light Mystery
Series: #1 in A Tourist Trap Mystery series
Type: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) - Kindle e-book
Source: Kensington Books
Publisher: Kensington Books
First Published: April 17, 2014
First Line: "Empty shops are the death knell for small businesses."

Book Description from GoodReadsIn the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective

Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I'm always on the lookout for a new author and finding a good cozy mystery author is a fabulous find.  I found Guidebook to Murder, the first book in the Tourist Trap mystery series, to be an impressive start to a new series.

This was a well-plotted and nicely paced mystery.  I also liked the fact that the author fit the mystery into the small town setting.  She didn't make this quiet, small town have dead bodies piling up all over the place.  It felt much more authentic to keep the body count low and instead focus on the main mystery.  

I will admit though to being surprised (and a little disappointed) at how little the bookstore setting came into play with this book. I picked it up because, let's face it, any book set in a bookstore is my kind of book!  The bookstore was barely in the book and only acted as a reason for Jill to have come to the town in the first place.  I'm hoping that in future books it will be more pivotal to the plot.

I'm still on the fence a bit with the protagonist, Jill.  She was interesting and came off as a believable main character who has a lot on her plate from running her business, to dealing with the death of her friend to trying to valiantly save an old home.  Her responses to her stress and loss were believable although I will admit that when she was being badgered by some other characters it really grated on me.  I will chalk up Jill's being a pushover at times to the author giving Jill room to grow and develop over the course of the series.  Sure, she stood up for herself in some aspects but gave in much too easily in others.  Which, if I'm being honest, is more realistic than having the main character get her way the whole time, right? 

I (who apparently lacks the romance gene) also appreciated that this book didn't fall into the predictable rut of too much romance, not enough suspense.  I go into a cozy mystery for the suspense, not a love triangle, so I appreciated that the author took the time to set up her mystery, characters and their relationships for her readers.  That said, the one frustrating thing about this book is the fact that the author strings along the reader with a question that isn't answered until the very end.  This method can be used to create suspense over the duration of the book but when the answer is obvious to the reader and is summed up in a mere sentence or two at the very end of the book it comes off as more frustrating for the reader than anything.

Overall, this was an enjoyable cozy mystery.  There were some unique secondary characters that were introduced and I look forward to hearing more from them in future books.  The mystery had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing the identity of the culprit and I'm eager to see where the author takes Jill in the next book of the series.


My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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