Friday, January 22, 2016

What I Read in February 2015 Part V

What I Read in February 2015 Part V . . .

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran-- Contemporary cozy mystery

Well Read, Then Dead
Sassy Cabot and her best friend Bridgy are New York transplants to Fort Myers Beach, Florida but thanks to their cafe/bookstore Read ’Em and Eat, they've become an integral part of the community. Through daily book club meetings, they've gotten to know the locals such Jocelyn, the preacher's wife who clashes with Rowena Gustavson, the consignment shop owner; and as the elderly cousins Miss Augusta Maddox and Miss Delia Baston. The cousins could not be more different. Miss Augusta is steely, stubborn and proud of her family's ties to the Everglades. She doesn't hesitate to harangue some young treasure hunters (locally known as wreckers). One day after breakfast, Read 'Em and Eat turns chaotic when the cook, Miguel breaks his leg. Then a man in a bucket hat asks after Miss Augusta and Miss Delia wanting to know their names. When Miss Delia winds up dead, Miss Augusta is quick to suspect the wreckers and urges Sassy to solve her cousin's murder. Sassy suspects wreckers or the fancy resort people trying to buy up Miss Delia's family land in the Everglades. Sassy's boyfriend Cady, a reporter, is willing to tell her the news if she promises not to go snooping around but the police don't seem to have all the facts. Deputy Ryan is a good friend but his new Lieutenant Frank Anderson may be handsome as sin but his steely gaze makes Sassy feel like a criminal. She's determined to bring her friend's murderer to justice. If she can track down the mysterious man known as Skully, she might gets some answers, but is not easy to find. Who would harm a sweet little old lady who was too shy to raise her voice?

This is a cute cozy mystery. I give it 3.5 stars. I found the mystery interesting enough to read in one sitting but I figured out who the murderer was. It seemed fairly obvious. I also figured out the identity of the mysterious person right away. I also think much of the story is highly implausible. If I was supposed to meet someone at a certain time, especially my cousin, and they didn't show and hadn't called, I would go inside to see what was going on! The whole thing is about land so wouldn't Miss Delia have a will? If the property automatically passes to blood heirs of the family, then we have no story. What I loved was the cafe (aside from the Barbara Cartland table ... I question Sassy's taste in literature. Where's the Jane Austen table? The Georgette Heyer table?). A cafe that's also a bookstore that serves up daily specials named after books sounds like my kind of place. There are book clubs for everyone and all sorts of people who join in. It sounds like a fun and cozy little place. I wanted a bit more about the cafe and the books and less local color.

Mild spoiler ahead

The characters are quirky. The heroine is Sassy, a transplanted New Yorker who is good of heart and has good intentions but for all that is REALLY stupid! She even knew that in a movie, she would have been heading into danger but she pooh-poohed the possibility in her real life and of course ends up in danger. I wanted to like her but she's just a bit too naive for me. Bridgy is a good friend to Sassy and can usually tease and laugh her way out of any tense situation with her best friend. Yet, I wasn't crazy about her either. Her sense of humor kind of rubbed me the wrong way or something. Then there's Bridgy's Aunt Ophie, the comic relief. She's a stereotypical southern lady who moves like a one woman tornado. She's certainly funny (unintentionally) but her southern charm irritated me. I liked the elderly cousins the best. Miss Delia seemed sweet and kind and I was heartbroken when she ended up dead. Miss Augusta is steely and tough but she loved her cousin and was hit heard by her death. I felt bad for her that she was so proud of her family's land and outsiders just didn't understand. I liked the stories she had about the Everglades though it was tough to learn Delia's story. When all the facts came out, I admired Delia for all she had been through.

I recommend this book to fans of cozy mysteries.

Clifton Manor - Episode OneClifton Manor - Episode One by Victoria Spencer-- Edwardian mystery/Downton Abbey-esque 
Anna Holden is in need of a job and takes a position as Assistant Cook at the prestigious Clifton Manor in Yorkshire though she had been a lady's' maid at her last job. She is quickly befriended by maid Gladys who seems to do all the other work besides dress the two most senior ladies in the house. Gladys is having a tough time. In addition to all the other work she has to do, she may have overheard something she shouldn't have and someone has it in for her and Anna. Upstairs, only son and heir George is expected to marry a society lady picked out by his mother. He would much rather handle the family accounts. He's taken them over from his father who only cares about hunting. He can't make heads or tales out of the ledgers. Something is off, but what? George's sister Lady Jane is about to be married to a disgusting, lecherous man and is eager to get her hands on his money. Youngest sister Elizabeth treats the servants like human beings and is friends with a farm hand. When Anna helps George discover a clue to the mystery, the mystery grows ever deeper and... one must wait for further episodes.

This is a great example of BAD Downton Abbey fan fiction. I'm not sure where to start... the language is modern (What is a weekend?) and sounds American though the author claims to write in British English. Just because words or phrases are used in Downton Abbey does not make them correct! I HIGHLY doubt anyone ever said "Chill out!" in the Edwardian period. Moving on the the characters... I find none of them likable and the only nice ones are boring. The Upstairs family is one giant cliche of bad Julian Fellows characters mixed with more smut and more cliches about the period.

The plot is only just getting started and there's not even a remote chance I'll buy the next installments to find out what's going on. Thomas and O'Brien... I mean whatever their names are in this book... Sterling and Juliet? are scheming and in cahoots with family about something. Think all the bad Julian Fellows plots and cliches about the time period. The plot just has too much going on and alternates view points too often. There's also a lot of sexual innuendo and crude talk I didn't care for.

I would not recommend this book to those who like well-written good quality stories. If you prefer the smutty aspects of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs you may actually like this.

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