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  • Writer's picturehaleylynnthomas22

This Cozy Mystery Reads Like a First Draft

GENRE: Adult Cozy Mystery
LENGTH: 326 pages

Summer Merriweather returns home for her mother’s funeral and to manage her mother’s bookstore. She believes her mother has been murdered and decides to investigate.

Summer is a supremely unlikable protagonist. She’s a Shakespearean scholar and she believes this entitles her to look down on the reading habits of others. Not only that, but she is also judgmental about others’ religious beliefs and her inner dialogue is just generally unkind. I honestly can’t think of a single redeemable trait she possesses. She’s also not anywhere near as smart as she thinks she is.
The other characters by comparison are more endurable. Her aunt Agatha and cousin Piper as well as her mother’s friends are all very thoughtful and supportive. I actually really loved how close Summer was with her family. As an auntie myself, I always have a soft spot for aunt characters. As someone who didn’t grow up with similarity aged cousins, that connection is always something I longed for, so I love when there are cousins who are also friends in books.
I don’t really understand the purpose of Hildy’s parrot, Mr. Darcy. He can talk and so naturally I thought at some point he’d say something that would prove to be a valuable clue, but no. There’s nothing wrong with having a parrot pet, but in the context of the story I just find it peculiar he wasn’t utilized.
Despite how nice most of the other characters are, they unfortunately cannot hope to make up for how the loathsome Summer bogs the story down.

The novel is told from the third person perspective of Summer (ugh). It is genuinely one of the most sloppily written books I think I’ve ever read. I counted over 18 typos in just over 300 pages and some of them were quite obvious ones to have been overlooked. Keep in mind, I wasn’t LOOKING for typos, I merely happened to notice them. Imagine if I had been on the hunt for them? Would I have possibly found even more? I shudder to think so. How this novel made it passed an editor I’ll never know.
Questionable writing aside, this book doesn’t even work well as a mystery. I figured out who did it right away. Every scene the culprit is in the author has them doing something so shady that it’s like a teacher handing you the answer sheet right before you take a test. I hoped that it was just a red herring, but sadly it was not. Normally when I can solve a mystery before the big reveal I feel really smart and clever. I felt no satisfaction solving this one, though, just disappointment that it was such a poorly crafted mystery.

As a writer myself, I hate to be so blunt and negative in a review, but there's no mincing words here: I'm truly baffled how this book was published. Even taking away from the fact that Summer is a horrible protagonist, the mystery is too easily solvable and one's book shouldn't be riddled with typos. I should have DNF'd this book and I can't recommend it. If you want a bookstore cozy mystery then try Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliot instead.

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