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Diving Into A Sea of Books–Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

I was in the mood for a “cozy” mystery, ie., one without gore and sex, so one day I picked up Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder by Amy Lillard. I want to say I liked it, but—it took me longer to read this than I thought it would. I got annoyed with it, so I put the book down for awhile. Yet I wanted to find out “whodunit” so I finally finished it.

Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder takes place in a sleepy little Southern town. The main character, Arlo Stanley, owns a bookstore. She is gearing up for a book signing with Wally Harrison, a former resident, now bestselling author. When Wally is found dead outside her store, Arlo’s life becomes much more complicated. Her best friend is jailed as the main suspect by the police chief, a former boyfriend of Arlo’s, and another former boyfriend returns to town. Plus, the elderly ladies in Arlo’s book club are determined to help find the true murderer, since they are sure it’s not Chloe, Arlo’s best friend.

The book had a lot going for it, in keeping the reader guessing as to the murderer’s identity, in the  characters, and in setting. Ms. Lillard does a good job putting enough twists in the story to keep the reader wondering whether the murderer really was Arlo’s best friend, or someone else. The minor characters of various business owners filled out the story and gave the small-town setting believability. I could almost smell the food cooking in The Diner! Small towns have their own pace and atmosphere, and the author captured that well.

Things I didn’t like? The main character repeated some actions over and over, to the point where it got annoying. Some details inserted into the story didn’t seem to have a purpose; they could have been cut out without hurting anything. A few of the characters did things which didn’t make sense to me. Some of the sentences were choppy; as a reader, I don’t appreciate that. There seemed to be a lot of backstory.   The way it appeared was confusing, and I couldn’t figure out why some of it was in the story. In all fairness, though, Can’t Judge a Book by Its Murder is the first in a new series: the Main Street Book Club Mystery series, and the characters featured in the backstory may be appearing in later titles.

Would I read the book again? I don’t know. Thankfully, the state of the world doesn’t depend on whether I will or not! 🙂

©P. Booher

 

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