Friday, March 17, 2017

Murder is No Accident by A.H. Gabhart, 2017

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Young Maggie Greene may be trespassing in the old, empty Victorian mansion on a quiet street in Hidden Springs, but all she wants is some private time in the magnificent tower room to write her stories. Certain she'll be in trouble if caught, she hides when a realtor shows up. But someone else is in the house too, someone even more worried about getting caught. When Maggie finds the realtor's body at the bottom of a flight of stairs and the other person gone, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is called in. He assumes the realtor's death is a tragic accident--until a second person is found dead in the house. When Maggie is threatened, Michael must catch the murderer before anyone else dies.

Cozy mystery fans will love this third installment in The Hidden Springs Mysteries series from an author who knows how to make small-town America sweet, sentimental--and a little sinister.

(352 pages)

First, just so you know, this is the third book in the Hidden Springs Mystery series. I have not read the first two, so I have no idea what details in this book count as spoilers for them. I'll be reviewing it more or less as though it was a stand-alone.

Though I have to say, starting with Murder is No Accident definitely did feel like I was stepping into the middle of something. Most of the characters are given introductions, so I didn't have to constantly guess about who everyone was, but I think I was supposed to already be attached to the characters at the start of the book. I couldn't have cared less about the main character Michael in the beginning of the book, and even though I grew to like him by the end (how could I not, with his love for kids and his tragic back-story?), I still found myself skimming the pages about his personal problems in the second half of the book. What can I say? I wanted to know what was happening with the mystery! And I really didn't care about his personal life that much. There's a fair amount of romance drama between Michael and his girlfriend, and I just couldn't convince myself to feel any anxiety about the relationship between two people who, to be perfectly honest, I did think should just break up and continue in their completely different lives.

To be fair, though, what interest I lacked for Michael and his girlfriend was more than made up for by my interest in Maggie and her boyfriend. It was so cute watching her grow increasingly connected with Anthony, who seems like a really sweet boy. I also just liked Maggie in general, because she seemed like a really nice person whose life was constantly on the verge of catastrophe. The family dynamics, especially with her younger brother and laid-off father, were very well done and I enjoyed them. Basically, Maggie and everything directly connected to her were the biggest things that I loved about the book.

Since this is a murder mystery, I suppose I should talk about the mystery itself. I can't really say much about it without spoilers, obviously, so I'll try to tread carefully. I've read tons of murder mysteries over the years, beginning when I was just nine years old with Murder on the Orient Express, but the number of non-Agatha Christie murder mystery novels I've read can be added up on just one hand. This one is definitely the best of those by far–more engaging, with a wonderfully character-driven plot–but it still doesn't even approach the genius of Christie's mysteries. I didn't guess the murderer, per se, but I definitely wasn't surprised by the end reveal. I was a little bored by it, honestly, but I can't say why because that would be a massive spoiler.

All in all, though, this is still the best murder mystery book I've ever read by anyone whose last name wasn't "Christie," so that's a win in my book. Also, to any other murder mystery fans out there: can you recommend some new names to me? Murder is No Accident has gotten me in the mood for the genre again!

Disclaimer: This is an Amazon affiliate link, and I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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