by Sharyn McCrumb
Book 1 of Elizabeth MacPherson
First of all, the only summary blurb I can find for this book is extremely misleading, in spite of the fact that it's mostly true. Because as you find out from the beginning of the book, Elizabeth does not actually "come early for support," and actually spends the first two pages of the book making fun of her cousin and her cousin's family in a letter to her brother.
This was a little off-putting since we learn that Eileen Chandler had been admitted into a mental care hospital not long ago in her life. The fact that Elizabeth spends even an ounce of time poking fun of that was quite tasteless and unnecessary. I'm not sure if this has to do with the time this book was written in 1984, but I didn't care for it. It was a bad first impression of the main heroine in this series.
Secondly, Elizabeth doesn't so much do the detecting, as let clues fall into her lap at intervals. In fact, there is a set of policeman in this book who probably have more book time than Elizabeth, and who actually do the detecting. This is a bit of a change from what I'm used to in cozy mysteries--at least the cozy mysteries I've read--wherein the police force is either missing, incompetent, or the asshat of a main male love interest. Instead, the two police detectives are definitely there to investigate and they kind of edge Elizabeth out of the book's limelight.
Then there's a twist in the end, pertaining to the murder investigation, that bugged me a lot because it didn't make sense, really.
Sick of Shadows wasn't a terrible book--it wasn't even a bad book, to be honest, and was actually written quite well. But the writing was really all that it had going for it. Well, all except for the part where the dialogue read like British instead of Southern U.S.A. I'm not sure if the perception was my fault since I'd been listening to an Agatha Christie mystery in audio book, narrated by Hugh Fraser, but aside from Aunt Amanda, I could not formulate a southern drawl for anyone else in the book. When I tried to "hear" the dialogue of any other character that way, it just slowly morphed into something more British.
I don't think I'd ever had that problem before with books that took place in the U.S. south.
But moving along...
Truth be told, the rest of the story was pretty flat. The characters were a little hard to grasp, and our main heroine--of whom the series is named for--doesn't really play much of a role in this book, as I've mentioned already. Instead, Elizabeth spends time doing the stereotypical feminine chores around the house to be helpful, interrogates people around her about future career prospects, and kind of just fades into the background. All of her cousins are described as eccentric, despite the fact that she describes them as crazy, and yet they come off as entirely too over-the-top, in my opinion. And you never really get to know them, any of them, well enough to care about their emotions or even their existence.
This is a pretty mediocre start to a cozy mystery series that, according to other reviewers, will pick up in the next book. So I'm not writing it off immediately, but I'm not going to hit up a store just to get a hold of the next book. I will wait patiently until my library picks up an e-book copy, or barring that possibility, I might give inter-library loan another go... another time from now.
I DO wish that Elizabeth had had more of a direction and some development to her character. As it is, she's really just another side character in a book full of side characters.
As I already mentioned, I'll give this series another spin some other time and hope that things are a little better outlined.
|Halloween Bingo 2018
(mystery, supernatural, suspense, or horror set in the Southern part of the United States)
Other Possible Squares: Genre: Suspense; Country House Mystery; Terror in a Small Town; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul
Four young girls, roommates at a boarding school, find an old sixpence in a mattress and decide it would be their lucky charm in finding suitable husbands when the time came...
Something New by Stephanie Sloane (❀❀❀)
Miss Anne Brabourne needs to find a husband and quickly, before she’s banished into the country. She also has a list of requirements and that list doesn’t include either love or passion thanks to the destruction, caused by heightened emotions, she’d witnessed as a child. Anne also gains a strange ally in her husband-seeking quest; Rhys Alexander Hamilton, Duke of Dorset. He’s determined to help her, but he has his own reasons.
This was a cute story. Maybe a tad too short, since both characterization and the plot itself suffered a bit—everything happened rather quickly, feeling a bit rushed. But I liked both main protagonists and especially their matchmaking aunts.
Something Borrowed by Elizabeth Boyle (❀❀❀❀)
Miss Cordelia Padley has invented a fake betrothed to curb her aunt’s enthusiasm of thrusting vicars upon her. But now she’s invited to her friend’s wedding and she’s supposed to bring her man along. The only one she could turn to is the famous Captain Kipp Talcott, her childhood friend. But as she pays him a visit, she discovers Kipp isn’t her Kipp anymore, but Winston Christopher Talcott, the Earl of Thornton. Still, she asks him to pretend to be her betrothed and he agrees, even though he was about to really get betrothed himself.
A sweet story of long-lost childhood friends finding each other again, trying to navigate between old and new dreams and real adult responsibilities, but in the end only one thing prevails—the heart.
I liked the contrast between the slightly flighty heroine and the stuffy hero, they provided a nice balance, complimenting each other rather splendidly. The story moved well, and though the love-story might appear rushed, the fact they were childhood friends compensated for the lack of space and time dedicated to the deeper development of their romance.
Something Blue by Laura Lee Guhrke (❀❀)
Lady Elinor Daventry is determined to save her father no matter the cost. Even marrying a man she doesn’t love. Anything is preferable to her father standing trial for things he didn’t commit. That’s why, six months before, she broke off her engagement to Lawrence Blackthorne, the man who believes all the nasty rumors about her father, determined to ruin him.
Ellie knows the sixpence is her ticket to marriage to the son of the duke, who might sway the peers to believe her father, but Lawrence Blackthorne has other ideas…And steals the coin.
This would’ve been a lovely second-chances story if it weren’t for the heroine and her determination to believe her father no matter what. Even when she had proof, she was still stubbornly in denial. I didn’t like how she treated the hero when he was doing his duty, the man that gave her up in order to seek justice for thousands of men.
I felt she wasn’t really worthy of everything Lawrence did to get her back, and somehow I didn’t really believe her feelings in the end, either.
...and a Sixpence in Her Shoe by Julia Quinn (❀❀❀❀)
Miss Beatrice Mary Heywood is the most pragmatic of the four friends. And the only reason she’s wearing the sixpence in her shoe is to keep her promise to her friends that she’d do so. And then she meets Lord Frederick Grey-Osbourne and all her dreams suddenly come true.
Short, but sweet.
Granted, the romance seemed a bit rushed, but we’re talking about a short story after all. I liked both protagonists, especially Bea, who looked beyond appearances and her enthusiasm was rather contagious. Frederick was a bit bland, at least compared to Bea, and I absolutely adored aunt Calpurnia in all her matchmaking glory.
// TA decides to pack light because, after all, she's only leaving for a 2-day business trip. Then agonizes a half hour over which one of several 100 books on physical TBR to take on the trip. //
// Leaving home, finds book in mailbox that was delivered yesterday but which for reasons unknown she didn't immediately retrieve. Pulls book out of envelope, discards envelope, and stuffs book into travel case. //
TA gets to airport: "Oh, look, there's the book store I knew all the time would be there!"
// Buys four more books just because. //