When you read enough books in one genre, you start to get a feel for the different styles of different publishers, and I've definitely read enough cozies to recognise patterns. Kensington, for instance, tends to publish authors with creative stories and strong characters, but are almost always too light-handed with the editing. Just enough to notice it but mostly not so bad you can't enjoy the story anyway.
Grave Errors is a good example. Lee is a strong, independent, likeable female protagonist with intelligence, who has an unwelcome gift for scrying that she can't control. Instead of going all woe is me! she takes steps to deal with it. She gets along with all the other characters and isn't TSTL.
The book (and series) has no love triangles, just a nice, subtle sub-plot romance that makes Lee's involvement in mysteries feasible and lends an additional air of well-adjustedness. The story is set in Salem Massachusetts, which lends its atmosphere to a variety of plots. And finally, the mystery is decently plotted. Even though I think it was pretty obvious who the villain was from almost the start, the story behind the motive was, to me, so much more interesting.
But man, this could have been so much better if it had been more tightly edited. Small things, like red-lining blue-lining* the author's tendency to mention Pete's (the BF) discomfort with Lee's visions every time she tells him about one. There were at least 6 visions in this book, and I'd gotten a clear idea of Pete's discomfort with them after the first 2.
At one point she refers to a hurricane heading their way named Penelope, with top sustained winds of 60mph. Storms aren't categorised as hurricanes until they reach a sustained wind speed of 74mph. I get that as a Florida girl, that's something I'm going to pick up on more than a lot of readers, but it's a simple google search - you don't even have to leave the results page to find it.
I'm not trying to discourage cozy readers from reading this - it's a good story and I really enjoyed it. But at a time when I feel like most cozies are turning into completely vapid crap, Kensington shows so much promise, publishing stories that are both cozy and interesting to readers that value intelligence in their fiction. If only they weren't quite so stingy with their red blue* pencils.
*Editors actually use blue pencils. I did not know that. But I googled it. ;-)
I read this for Task 1 Calan Gaeaf: Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft.
(I originally said in my status update I was going to read this for Dios de Muertos, using my Book Holiday Joker card, but then realised it totally fits the Calan Gaeaf category without burning the Joker. Duh.)