Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: A Grand Murder by Stacy Verdick Case

(A full length cozy mystery from Before the Fall Books)

When a prominent local businessman and friend of the chief of police is murdered on the front steps of his posh Grand Avenue Hill home, Catherine O'Brien a pithy, vertically challenged, St. Paul, Minnesota, homicide detective with a monstrous coffee habit and her partner Louise are given two days to find his killer.

They soon discover their victim had a list of people with motives to murder him, including his fashion designer ex-wife, his mistress’s husband, and the chief of police. The only evidence they have to go on is a missing cell phone, a stolen book, the victim’s letter opener, and an ugly pair of Alpaca wool mittens.

Catherine O'Brien, described as vertically-challenged and perpetually disheveled, is partnered with Louise Montgomery, a tall black woman who is always impeccably dressed—even after being up all night. This first book in a new series about this unlikely pairing begins when they have already been partnered for three years and have grown into friends. Catherine is short, but feisty; and as the first-person POV character in this story, we see all the action through her eyes. She's also very grumpy when she hasn't had enough sleep or coffee—which is how we first meet her. She's snarky and funny at the same time.

I don't want to give away an spoilers, but the mystery unfortunately was the weakest part of the book for me. The relationship of the characters was the strongest, and they were well-developed and interesting. That was the draw for me -- I really liked them and wanted to really like the book.

The big issue was one of editing. There were many places where phrases were repeated multiple times in the same paragraph, apostrophe s used for plural, misspelling, areas where the secondary characters' actions were not consistent, etc. The basic problems a professional editing should have picked up are the biggest reason I can only give this book only a three.

For a first book, it holds promise. This author is skilled and certainly creates memorable characters. As I said, I enjoyed the relationship between the characters; the story itself reads like a show you would see on television—I could see this plot carried out a la Cagney and Lacey. I'm certainly not sorry I read it, and look forward to seeing more from this author.

3/5 Flowers

FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

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