A strong start to a brand new ‘cosy’ crime series (4 stars)
Source- review copy
Carina Press- October 29th 2012
I’m on a bit of a ‘cosy mystery’ kick at the moment and was pleased that I had the opportunity to review this book, the first in a brand new series which is due to be released at the end of this month. I really enjoy cosy crime based around arts and crafts in particular (knitting, needlework, cooking etc) but had never read one based around a bead artist before, so welcomed the opportunity to read this. Cosy crimes (usually starring female amateur sleuths) are positively ideal for days when you want a bit of light-hearted reading and a mystery that doesn’t tax the brain too much. They’re also non-gory with a surprising lack of violence, and considering they’re murder mysteries you never witness the actual deed being done!
That’s probably just as well for bead artist Lilias Ruiz, who returns home from a craft fair to find a dead body on her rug. Traumatised enough by the fact a man has been murdered in her home, Lilias is perplexed to discover the police suspect she is caught up in the mess somehow. After a further incidents, including a spate of break-ins to her van and her house being vandalised, Lilias realises that somehow she has something that these people want; the question is: what is it?
I thought this was a strong start to a new series. Characters were introduced particularly well and I liked Lilias, her neighbour and best friend Annie and her nephew Toby. Some of the characters were perhaps a little bit stereotypical of this genre (the disbelieving, bullish police and FBI detectives for example), but I appreciated how Lilias had been given a background to make the reader empathise with her. Some small details were divulged about her con artist son, David, and I would hope that in future books, further gravity is given to this story thread as it is not often that the protagonists actually have family members, let alone criminal ones!
The writing flows well in this story; it is nicely paced without bombarding the reader with too many red-herrings and certainly kept me turning the pages. I thought I had the whodunit aspect all figured out and thought the story to be a bit predictable and then there was a surprising little twist towards the end which I hadn’t expected. Lilias didn’t seem as ‘involved’ in the sleuthing until towards the end of the book, when things started locking into place for her, which was entertaining to read about- and I loved the dynamics between her and the detectives and her indignant attitude towards them. There is also the suggestion of some romance too, which again, I would like to read about in future books of the series.
I would recommend this novel to fans of cosy crime, especially those that have enjoyed books by Betty Hetchman, Monica Ferris or Maggie Sefton in the past. I am delighted to have found yet another new writer within the cosy mystery genre that I enjoy and I will definitely be reading part two of this series.