When this show first appeared on tv, my mom loved the show and watched it religiously. Eventually, I started watching it, too and enjoyed it. I wasn't as religious about watching it (between work, school and homework there wasn't time) and so would watch whenever I could. Then it was on Netflix and I would watch a few episodes at a time to catch up. Then one day in a library, I saw the books, not all of them, just some. I borrowed one here or there.
I found this originally as an audiobook and borrowed it, but didn't get very far and gave up. I found it again as a Kindle book and regular book and borrowed it so that I could read it to fill in the Reading around the USA mysteries. It took care of Hawaii (I know there are many out there, but this worked, too).
Jessica Fletcher has arrived in Maui, HI to co-teach a class with a famous retired detective, Mike Kane. On her arrival, she finds another person she has been asked to find and meet, Mala, a friend of Seth Haslitt's granddaughter. On the first night, Jessica is going to a luau and looks for Mala there but meets, Bob and his wife, Elaine, Professor Luzon and his wife, Honi and his graduate assistant, Grace. Just before she leaves, Grace tells Jessica that Mala was at the luau, but that she was arguing with someone. Jessica also overhears some men talking about getting rid of a woman if she continues to cause trouble.
She is told about Mala's death by Mike and they begin to look into the death of Mala because while the officials are calling it an accident, they don't believe it was an accident.
I did enjoy this story and was glad that I finally got a chance to read it.
Holly, a powerful witch, has been tossed from the Haven, a secret system of living for paranormals. She’s been placed in a communal home for displaced paras, living in the small town of Beechwood Harbor. Working at a coffee shop to make ends meet, Holly is shocked when she shows up for work only to find her grumpy boss Peg murdered in the back alley. When her best friend is named as the primary suspect, Holly uses her witchy ways to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Murder’s a Witch is a fun, entertaining story. This is the first time I’ve selected an audiobook primarily because of the narrator, and I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the small-town, cozy paranormal mystery with a slight blossom of romance. Even though at first, I found the house infighting annoying, and the characters a bit over-the-top, I grew to like the residents of Beechwood Harbor.
Holly is a bit of a mess, and she has secrets, of which we learned very little. Hopefully those answers will come in time, but the immediate mystery of who killed Peg was engrossing. I liked listening as Holly worked to put all of the pieces together. I loved the light-hearted nature of the story, watching friendships develop, seeing Adam’s genuine interest in Holly, etc. Some of the storylines were a bit cheesy - like the vampiress beauty queen, but mostly it is a good mix of fun.
As I mentioned, I picked up this story because while it looked interesting, the narrator is one of my favorites: Amanda Ronconi. She does a wonderful job with the story, creating and maintaining unique and fitting voices for each character. Ms. Ronconi succeeds with the quirky, first-person female lead, and Holly is no exception. I’ve become familiar with most of her voices, yet never did I confuse Murder’s a Witch with another story.
In the end, I enjoyed my first visit to Beechwood Harbor. I like that there is still a lot of unknown around Holly, like why she was kicked out of the Haven system, and with town newcomer, Nick… I feel like there is more to him than meets the eye. I will definitely pick up future titles of the Beechwood Harbor Magic Mysteries with Amanda Ronconi narrating.
My Rating: B
Review copy provided by Tantor Audio
The premise of the Mystery content turned out to be very familiar me, thanks to other books I've read. In other words, I figured this one out, simply because the author was resorting to tricks and slight-of-writing that have been done to death--well, done to murder.
I went back to look at my updates at the Booklikes website, and did notice that I was still stumped as of page 153, but it wasn't long after that when a major penny dropped in my brain, and once a major revelation opened up before me--again, one that authors use repeatedly--almost everything formerly hidden fell into place. This disappointment--just about any whodunit I figure out is not going to get top marks from me--combined with rather cardboard characterizations, including the comic-relief ones, as the author focused on the puzzle and not the psychology of the people or the drama of the situation, brought the book down a bit, in my estimation.
Overall, not a bad effort. Was it Thomas Berger's catch-all quote, or someone else: "there was nothing really wrong with it, except that it was kind of lousy.". I can't even use that quote here, because the book was not lousy, just very, very familiar in its premise. I'm actually kicking myself for not noticing a rather routine bit of skullduggery (hah!) early on. The book is too short to really ever get dull, and the author sets a peppy pace, while running a handy formula with bits jiggled around. I would agree with Martin Edwards who, in his Intro to my edition of this novel, makes note of the fact that this reads a lot like a Freeman Wills Crofts novel, up to including the fact that Bude's detective, Meredith, is not much different than Crofts' (once-)famous Inspector French. That leads me to recommend the following Crofts novels, ahead of The Sussex Downs Murder:
Inspector French and the Sea Mystery
Inspector French and the Starvel Hollow Tragedy
The Mystery in the Channel
In particular, Sea Mystery shines best, if you want my two cents accumulated from any pennies that keep dropping in my head, from books that try and use Crofts' tricks to try and outdo him; and heck, they probably weren't even Crofts' tricks originally, were they?--a Conan Doyle novel comes to mind, and that's going way back, plus I think of a Michael Connelly Mystery that I loved, but that jiggles bits of a familiar premise.
I would say Sussex Downs Murder beats out Inspector French and the Box Office Murders which, to me, feels dated and quaint--though there's some nasty crap going on in that one thanks to ruthless villains--but other than that, I've given you my version of a reading order that supports the notion that Crofts jiggles familiar bits and pieces around more masterfully than perhaps Bude does. Still, I've read much more of Crofts, and should probably give Bude more chances to impress me. I certainly wouldn't be adverse to another John Bude outing...but he will need to stay away from that...that...um, that...that specific, um, thing writers do.