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Old 03-05-2011, 07:42 PM   #8528
ATDrake
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
If this is a topic of interest, and you haven't read it, I also recommend Barbara Tuchman's _The Guns of August_, which focuses on the same time and concerns.
That does looks interesting, and I bet the library has a paper copy. Thanks for the recommendation!

Le book du bus ride was actually two books (okay, 1 and 68/100ths) in Tamar Myers' Den of Antiquities cozy mystery series starring an antiques dealer as the amateur sleuth.

I picked up A Penny Urned, which is something like #7 in the series, because it was set in Savannah, Georgia: a location I've always rather liked because I'm weirdly fond of tiny pocket cities with good historical preservation societies and salacious murder cases.

This was an okay read, though I have to say that I'm surprised that Abigail Timberlake, the amateur sleuth, goes around solving murders instead of committing them, considering how incredibly irritating her supporting cast is and how often she expresses that irritation.

Mind you, Timberlake is in no position to cast stones herself, because she really looks best when set against her companions' more extreme qualities, and is one of those really amateur sleuths who fumbles around and jumps to conclusions and mainly seems to solve things by eventually blundering into the right answer mostly by accident.

I'm sure the author means for these characters to come across as quaintly eccentric, but they really seem more like delusionally lunatic caricatures at times. I don't know, maybe if I had better acquaintance with American regionalisms it would all look much more folksily charming.

Nightmare in Shining Armor, which comes chronologically and publication-date after, is shaping up to be a much better read, despite the fact that I'm not as invested in the setting and scenario.

But the irritating character mannerisms seem toned much farther down (or maybe the narrator is just spending less time around the most annoying ones and ranting a bit less in her internal monologue, or they've all grown on me like fungus) and the whodunnit is much harder to guess, with multiple possibilities, whereas with the first one it was pretty easy to see where it was trying to lead.

The books do have a certain sense of humour and a few good lines and some very funny moments and if another one in the series had a setting/theme "hook" that interested me, I'd probably pick it up (from the library, mind you). But overall I'd say a much better coastal southeastern US antiques dealer amateur sleuth solving murder mysteries with her quaintly eccentric "such a character!" friends and family with aspirational social snobbery is Mary Kay Andrews' cozy chick-lit suspense series set in Savannah, which also come with recipes.

Of course, YMMV because according to the library e-book listings, this series was popular enough to make it to at least 15 books.

After that long, don't you a) start to run out of ideas as well as cutesy pun-based titles, b) empty the town of people willing to be anywhere near the amateur sleuth and thus likely killed in the line of investigation? I think someone once crunched the numbers for Midsomer Murders and concluded that the region had something like a 70%+ residential attrition rate.
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