I am going to change my review style a bit. When reviewing titles for Net Galley that have a looming publication date, I'm going to post reviews during the month with the specific title in the post title line.But monthly reviews of non-Net Galley titles will continue as in years past, with a round-up at the end of the month. Here is my second Net Galley title for January:
A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson I found this first outing for this new series to be enjoyable. It's set in a lovely part of the world (rural Pennsylvania), the main characters (Megan, Denver, Bonnie, Clover, etc.) are all nice enough folks you'd nod to in real life. The author uses the setting very effectively, with the denouement during a terrible thunderstorm, which presumably gives rise to the title. I suppose it could also be an allusion to the muddied pasts that seep through the story: Megan's family ghosts, the farm's two-hundred-year legacy, the mysterious pasts of Denver, Sarah, and other characters. But Megan's dash for help through the blinding storm most readily springs to this reader's mind. History-buff that I am, I liked the Revolutionary War connection to the modern mystery in which Megan is tangled. What didn't I like--the most obvious ploy to try to keep the reader coming back: the decades-old drama between Sarah and Bonnie, the mystery behind Sarah's mother (Where is she? Where are the children?), the loose end that Eddie appear to be, floating off-center in Italy with just brief appearances. I know, I know, these are deliberate carrots to keep us coming back, but I hate carrots being really obvious, and I found these to be blatant. The mystery was not terribly mysterious, as I figured out the whodunnit early. I did find some bits of Megan's actions to be out-of-character: she was a high-powered lawyer yet she doesn't even discuss Jeremy's menu, nor have a contract with him, nor pursue the failed inspections that begin the book with more vigor? I realize my objections are largely nitpicking, which is probably due to my really liking the premise of the book and wanting to see it fulfill the potential I saw for it. Overall, a solid B+, maybe even verging into an A- for the author's descriptive powers of the farm, the town, and the storm. A promising start to the series.