Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What I Read in November 2015 Part VII

What I Read in November 2015 Part VII ...

Murder in the Paperback Parlor (Book Retreat Mysteries #2) by Ellery Adams-- cozy mystery

Murder in the Paperback Parlor (Book Retreat Mysteries, #2) Jane Steward, manager of Storyton Hall is excited about her upcoming Regency Romance week event for Valentine's Day. She may even find a Regency romance hero of her own if her best friend's brother has anything to say about it. The event brings in many lovers of Regency romance novels hoping to spend time with their favorite author, Rosamond York. Ms. York is a notorious diva who never interacts with her fans but has remained on the best seller lists for years. Her fellow romance authors are jealous and when Ms. York releases an ARC of her latest novel, not all her fans are pleased. Maria Stone, modern feminist, is especially displeased with the misogynistic viewpoint of the novel, but is she mad enough to kill? When Rosamond York is found dead in the garden, Jane knows it's up to her and her family and staff to solve the mystery. Was it the reporter Nigel Poindexter, seen arguing with Rosamund York at lunch? Could it have been a jealous fellow writer or an angry fan? When someone else ends up dead, Jane worries that the murders are diversions and someone is out to threaten her precious top-secret library and she vows to protect it with her life.

I was vastly confused right away in this novel not having read the first book in the series. Instead of recapping the cutesy town with the cutesy name, the story jumps right into ... martial arts class?! What pray tell is the heroine doing in martial arts? Apparently she is part of a top secret society protecting a top secret library full of unpublished and super rare literary works. Ok... I'm still confused as to what a Guardian does and why they live double lives and whatever else is going on. Apparently none of this is relevant to the murder mystery until the end of the novel. I was also incredibly disappointed that instead of the Jane Austen fans I was expecting, the Regency romance novels are of the Regency Historical variety (i.e. bodice ripping New York Times Bestseller types). I failed to see how an anachronistic character such as Venus Dares and disgusting alpha hero rakes are appealing to modern women, ESPECIALLY a self-proclaimed feminist like Maria. Eros is worse, I give her that anyway. I want to join the Matildas! The mystery is complicated. I thought I had it figured out but then it seemed like I was wrong. It seemed my guess was a little too obvious but I was right the first time. I also figured out most of the other secrets in the story but one big clue was actually a red herring. I couldn't put the book down until I knew who the murderer actually was. I almost didn't finish the book because it took forever to get there and the plot didn't interest me otherwise.

There were some problems in the text of the paperback edition. Heroine means female lead character not the drug. The drug is heroin no e. Damascus IS in Syria but that may be a deliberate mistake.

BIG BIG problems with the plot: Rare books pre-1860s were printed on either animal skin or linen paper. The paper doesn't brown with age. That comes later with wood pulp paper. Old books can become water damaged, heat damaged, have foxing (orange/brown spots) if it's a later book, mold, or curl up. I wouldn't have chosen the Gutenburg Bible to get all excited about. I would have chosen another incunable (book printed before 1501 in Europe) or better yet an illuminated manuscript done by monks. Anyway, here is the exact pages of Gutenburg Bible Song of Solomon that appear in the novel. Libraries are about sharing! No library could survive without patrons. Even rare books and special collections go on display or allow researchers to view them. Museums are more about protecting treasures but again they SHARE their collections in a look don't touch way. I think this author has been watching The Librarians on TNT because it sounds like the same thing.

I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters. Some are listed in the beginning of the book but not all. I have a love/hate relationship with Storyton. On one hand I like the literary names (except who names their kids Hemingway and Fitzgerald?) but on the other I found Storyton too cutesy. The constant literary references and characters who seem to have read every book ever written got on my nerves. The whole thing was just too over-the-top cutesy for me. Jane is an OK heroine. She claims to have read Pride and Prejudice so often the words are like old friends, yet she can't complete the sentence "To be fond of dancing is the first step ____." While Jane isn't super forthcoming about her feelings, she's a great mom and a decent manager. She deserves happiness after all the tragedy in her life. Her sons, Hem and Fitz, act a lot older than 6- maybe more like 8. Minor spoiler: A 6 year old is too small to ride a ten-speed bike. A 6 year old usually still needs training wheels on a small bike. Minor quibble. I can't remember who any of the other characters are but there is a butler cum martial arts expert and a librarian/self-defense expert and a mysterious recreation coordinator. There's also Jane's best friend Eloise who is a little frivolous but may be good for Jane to help lighten her up a bit. Elosie's brother Edwin is Jane's love interest. He's brooding and mysterious. For some reason, to be revealed towards the end of the book, Jane's family hates him. I didn't trust him at all but found the end very intriguing.

The romance writers are largely an awful group. They write stupid anachronistic trash and fans adore them for some reason but are they grateful? No. They want to be the best seller, the most popular - one or two may even have stooped to murder. Rosamund York was the biggest diva of them all and the most annoying. She didn't deserve to die but she did deserve to be haunted by the ghost of Georgette Heyer for destroying the genre Ms. Heyer started.

This book just disappointed me and didn't interest me as much as I had hoped.

Caught Read-HandedCaught Red Handed (A Read 'Em and Eat Mystery #2) by Terrie Farley Moran-- cozy mystery

Sassy and Bridgy are busier than ever but Sassy makes the time to donate some books to the library's book sale. On her way in she overhears a library volunteer Tanya Lipscome aka "Tanya Trouble" shouting at a library patron. The man looks uncannily like Sassy's old boss George Mersky back in Brooklyn. A quick call to George reveals that his brother Alan is a veteran with PTSD and the family hasn't heard from him in a long time and they're worried. When Alan is accused of murdering Tanya, Sassy is determined to help. She brings in George, his wife and sister and introduces them to some other local vets who attend a veterans group with Pastor John. Sassy knows Alan didn't kill Tanya but the police don't seem to be looking too hard for another suspect. Meanwhile, the island is becoming divided over the issue of a green anaconda swimming around the Bay. Miguel is worried about his beloved cat Bow and wants the anaconda killed. Bridgy's Aunt Ophie and her friends are in favor of a more humane treatment of the snake. Can Sassy and Bridgy keep the two factions apart long enough to prevent another murder?

What I liked best about this book is the cafe. I'd love to visit there and have some tea and scones. I love the literary theme - it's so clever! I'm not enthusiastic about Fort Myers Beach though. Cozy mysteries are usually all about the small town and the reader is supposed to fall in love with the town and want to know what happens to the residents and I am not getting that feeling with this series. Maybe it's because I hate the beach and heat and I will never set foot in Fort Myers beach willingly? I liked the plot. I could not figure out who the murderer was. I was actually on the parallel path and did eventually venture a correct guess.

The characters in this series aren't all that memorable. I like Miguel the cook the best. He has a big heart and is a really great person. Aunt Ophie is amusing but also very annoying and I'm glad she's not my aunt. Sassy and Bridgy are boring. They're typical cookie cutter cozy heroines who like to investigate where they shouldn't. They don't have much personality and they're not all that interesting. The veterans give this plot a little more somber tone than the usual cozy mystery but the plot isn't too heavy. I liked meeting some of the other people in the area. I especially like the animal activists and I can see both sides of the issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.