Mysteries have never been my bag, but the setting of the Anna Pigeon mysteries (national parks/wilderness areas) is totally my thing, so I thought I'dMysteries have never been my bag, but the setting of the Anna Pigeon mysteries (national parks/wilderness areas) is totally my thing, so I thought I'd give it a shot, especially for an audiobook to pass the time commuting, doing laundry, etc.
Barr's description of Guadalupe National Park made me feel like I was visiting all over again (although I only climbed Guadalupe Peak and have no experience with McKittrick Canyon and the other locations mentioned in the book). The landscape is harsh and unforgiving, and so is Anna Pigeon. She's a loner who prefers animals to people, and does not have the best opinion of humankind. In the beginning of the book, when a fellow ranger has ostensibly been killed by a mountain lion, her immediate sympathy for the lion, any lion, who will be "dispatched" to salve the outcry about dangerous animals in the park, automatically put me on her side. I've read other reviews here about how that turned the reader off, but it was just opposite for me. I identified with Anna completely in that respect.
I know this was the first book in the series, and Anna's character needed to be established, but I felt that Barr spent way too much time in that effort. Of course there needed to be scenes with the possible suspects, but then the story wandered down the path of Anna wondering if she was a lesbian, and long conversations with her psychiatrist sister in NYC. I kept waiting for the mystery to get going again.
All in all, I'm glad I gave this one a try, but I won't be rushing off to the second book in the series, particularly if the setting isn't as captivating as this one was....more
Whenever I try to explain or describe anything penned by Wilkie, I always come up short so I'm not even going to try. This book totally deserves its pWhenever I try to explain or describe anything penned by Wilkie, I always come up short so I'm not even going to try. This book totally deserves its place in the halls of famous literature. I suppose it is considered an epistolary novel (though a depositional novel would be more precise!) as the entire story is seen through the point of views of a series of characters from the beginning of the saga to the end. And what a huge cast of characters! The melodrama was thick enough to eat with a spoon, and how delicious it was! I went the audio route, and the standouts were Patrick Tull as Gabriel Betteredge, the loyal servant of Lady and Rachel Verinder, and Frank Muller as Franklin Blake. Davina Porter also did justice to the self-righteous reprobate Miss Clack and I wished that segment had been longer.
If you have a lady boner for Wilkie's works like I do, I can't recommend this enough!...more
I'm not a fan of mysteries, but my interest can be piqued by the right subject matter. This falls into the subgenre of "cozy," just like the only otheI'm not a fan of mysteries, but my interest can be piqued by the right subject matter. This falls into the subgenre of "cozy," just like the only other mysteries I've enjoyed, A Cadenza for Caruso and Prima Donna at Large. Fluffy? Sure. The big murderer reveal at the end coming kind of out of nowhere? Most likely. But if opera (or classic movies) or whatever hobby the cozy revolves around is front and center, it makes up for what it lacks in substance.
This book was no exception. Kay Francis, glamorous movie star, finds herself helping the local police in the Mexican resort town of Mazatlan in the murder case of a famous mystery author who was offed one evening during a mystery writers' conference. Suspects aplenty, but no apparent motive. But Kay will find her man, with the help of some friends, including Errol Flynn.
As far as I can tell this is the author's first work, and it is a rough effort but with plenty of potential. I don't consider myself an expert but the mystery might have been further developed and deeper, with less time spent on descriptions of the location. Kay (referred to as "Miss Francis" throughout) could have been fleshed out a bit more but if historical facts regarding her personality were being adhered to, there may not have been much to work with considering she was quite guarded about herself. My main complaints are the comma fatigue and the very long-winded monologue at the finale as Kay unveiled and dismissed the suspects. There could have been more interaction between the players. Kay also received a lot of information from outside sources who got THEIR information off-page, which was a little frustrating. The frame of the mystery was somewhat lacking.
Still, I think with some more work this could be a superior mystery novel and it would help dilute the bookshop/knitting/confectionary cozies that are flooding the market. As with all things, I prefer my reads based in the past, and I'll even take mysteries that way!
Disclaimer: Goodreads friends with the author. But that doesn't influence my rating one bit.
This was a pretty mixed bag for me. The beginning was soliDisclaimer: Goodreads friends with the author. But that doesn't influence my rating one bit.
This was a pretty mixed bag for me. The beginning was solid, the writing drew me in. I was rooting for Nell as she decided quite firmly to stay mum and so she wouldn't end up shackled to her clearly skeezy ne'er-do-well cousin-in-law Jack. The seduction scene was quite clever, as I assumed that it was worded so vaguely to reflect how naive and clueless Nell was about what exactly was happening.
But then... that old trope of instant Maternal Instinct kicked in that set my eyes rolling. One of these days I'd like to read a heroine who actually follows through on her initial rejection of Motherhood. I'm not holding my breath, though. The only ones who do stick to their guns end up being sluts and nasty wenches.
The setting of the Poor Farm was really cool. If you peruse old atlases, it seemed nearly every town had one out in the hinterlands on back roads away from sight. A very interesting and uncommon location, and as a result, we got some uncommon characters. I thought the description of daily life there was well done and gave the sneak-peek into the past that this history buff loves.
I'm no fan of mystery, but the mystery in this book was pretty slight. At the first clue, I knew "whodunit" and became rather impatient as Nell slowly arrived at the obvious conclusion. I was rather surprised that at the Big Reveal, there was still almost half the book to go.
The last half seemed to lose its focus, as Nell deals with her stepfather, her ailing mother, and Martin the must-be-gay bachelor. The plot started to wander aimlessly at this point, and I would go for days without picking up the book because I had started not to care how the story ended, and as I found out (because I did finish it) the conclusion was very open-ended, as the reader wonders if that was it, or there is going to be another book where Nell finds out that Martin prefers the dudes.
I was also disappointed (view spoiler)[that the murderer didn't get a proper comeuppance. Slipping and falling in the river? It would totally have been awesome to have Martin blast the bastard in the back with a shotgun and that's why he went sailing into the river. (hide spoiler)]
There were a couple things that bugged me. The dialogue was rather stilted with a lack of contractions. It didn't sound very natural. Nell and Martin were childhood friends, but they sounded like robots talking to each other. The chapters were also really short. Like, James Patterson short. I'm not one for 20-40 page chapters, but only books the size of Gone with the Wind should have chapters into the 50s. The short chapters made the flow of the plot choppy and seemed to foster that sense of aimlessness I was getting. Was this a mystery, historical fiction, chick novel (Nell and Tess's friendship)?
So it was just under 3 stars for me, but rounding it up to 3. Kudos for a total lack of obvious grammatical errors and typos. Every word meant what it was supposed to mean, and as we all know, that seems to be a major challenge among self-pubbed/indie authors, especially in the New Adult crowd. ;)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more