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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review - One Book in the Grave

Once again we are traveling to the streets of San Francisco - I couldn't resist that one.  I reviewed the book just prior to this one, The Lies that Bind (click here.)   This is the fourth book in the series, let's see how this edition has stacks up.

Author:  Kate Carlisle

Copyright:  February 2012 (Signet) 304 pgs

Series:  4th in  Bibliophile Mysteries

Sensuality:  innuendo

Mystery Sub-genre:  Cozy

Main Characters: Brooklyn Wainwright, book binder and restorer

Setting: modern day, San Francisco and countryside

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Brooklyn is presented with a rare first edition of Beauty and the Beast to restore, the only problem is Brooklyn knows the the book intimately, and that it was stolen from a young widow.  Brooklyn tries to follow up with the book seller who had sold the book, but finds him dead and all the clues at the scene point to a close friend of Brooklyn's who died three years ago.

Brooklyn is insecure and not as decisive in this edition.  She is conceding to the love interest, trying to abide by his requests to not get in harms way etc.  But more than that, it seems she is becoming dependent upon him while being insecure.  Her boyfriend Derek, we are continually reminded, is rich and drop-dead-gorgeous.  But otherwise he seems like a cardboard cutout of Fabio being moved around.  This would have been the edition to make him more "real" to the reader, but I didn't feel that was even on the agenda. Minka, Brooklyn's nasty nemesis, made a couple of appearances that seemed thrown in without a real purpose.  That was jarring.  The standouts in this book were Brooklyn's family.  The reader has gotten used to their being new-agey, but a very different side is shown of them.  Sweet!  Guru Bob has more substance to him this time around as well.  Gabriel is enigmatic as always.

Forced is the best word to describe the plot. The initial setup of the plot seems a stretch.  There are enough times throughout the story that are improbable so that it feels "off" throughout.  The setting is not a key ingredient, but manages to add to the suspense with cat-and-mouse hunts in the hills of California.  Pacing was a bit on-and-off because the story didn't seem to flow smoothly.

The climatic confrontation with the killer is perhaps the best part of the entire book.  The villain was not obvious but, looking back, the subtle clues were there.  The wrap up was a little flat.  This is the time in a series when it hits its stride or starts to stumble.  I feel this book was not comparable to the prior books, although it is still a fun cozy.  I hope this is just a slight hiccup and the next book will have a more thoughtful plot and the old Brooklyn back.

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