I was browsing through free Kindle books on Amazon the other day and I came across this one. It immediately drew me to it for two reasons. It was a murder mystery set in France (two things I love) and it had to do with time travel. So you can guess how quick I snatched it up. However, this book falls into the category of books that could have been good but miss the mark. Let me explain…
Release: May 14th, 2017
Synopsis: Jules Hooker is an ordinary American girl who, after being dumped by her boyfriend, takes a vacation to a small town in France. But when she gets there, everything goes crazy. She stumbles upon a dead body of a young girl, a bomb explodes in the sky, and France is thrown back in time to the fifties (yes, this is the actual plot). Now, Jules is stranded in a strange country and has to use her wits both to survive and to solve the murder.
General Review (because spoilers would be a waste of my time)
There were so many problems with this book. In fact, it is the example of why, sadly, I avoid most Indie books. There were a few grammatical errors as well as run-on sentences, but for me I hardly ever notice the small issues in a book (or at least I don’t want to take the time to notice them). Instead, I want to look at the major issues I had with this story.
The biggest and most glaring issue is the confusion of genre. It’s a cozy murder mystery, but also a time traveling drama, but also an apocalyptic, fear-driven story, but also a romance. Let me just state I love when authors subvert your expectations of what should or should not be in a particular genre. However, this one just felt like a mess. The moment the murder mystery would start to get interesting, the story would focus more on the apocalyptic survival.
Because the book was so short (213 pages), that means most of the topics were focused on only shallowly. If the author had focused on just one of the big issues (such as the murder, or the bombing, or the romance), the plot’s focus would have come across more clear and exact. However, as it is, I could never even try to get into the story because of the lack of focus. It was like the author had all these great ideas, but then threw them all into one story without stepping back and asking herself whether it all worked as a concise plot.
The perspective was also confusing. The story starts with this line, “I’m pretty sure when I write about this later I’m going to say there were signs.” This suggests that Jules is telling the story in retrospect, and yet if this is the case, the switches to Luc’s perspective would make no sense, as well as Jules commenting her thoughts in the moment. It was confusing whether the story was present or retrospective.
The jump back to the fifties was strange and contradictory. On one hand, of course computers wouldn’t work or any advanced electrical equipment. However, the book makes it seems as if they still can’t solve the murder. You can do DNA without a computer. It’s not like these people don’t have the knowledge. They are modern people in the 1950s, so why would they still be unable to solve the murder using modern methods? It’s silly, to say the least.
The romance felt forced, at best. Jules was annoying…to say the least. She’d comment on any hot guy that walked by. Now just comment, but fixate on his looks instead of looking at him like a person. I mean, she just finds a dead body, the police investigator Luc comes and asks her questions, and all she talks about is how cute he is. I mean, girl, you just found a dead body! If this was some erotica, I wouldn’t be surprised by this. But this was supposed to be a cozy murder mystery…or something like it…I’m still very confused about what I just read.
The mystery itself was very interesting; I just wish the book had given more time to it. A young woman is strangled and Jules finds the body. Because Luc and the police force are focused on figuring out this whole apocalypse thing, she decides to investigate the girl’s death. I wouldn’t say the mystery is as complex as many I’ve read, but its light and fun.
However, even with the mystery there were tons of cliques. Jules receiving a letter telling her to stop investigating the murder. Jules figuring out the murderer, but not telling the reader until the big reveal (I personally hate this clique, especially when we are in her perspective). The clique of going to confront of the murderer without going to the police first (come on, Jules, how stupid can you get?).
I will say, the reveal of the murderer was brilliant—I totally didn’t guess who it was. But that coolness was taken away because of the stupidity of Jules and by how there were no hints throughout the book hinting to who it was. In a good mystery, when you get to the reveal, you should go, “Ah! Why didn’t I guess it was him/her?” In this one, it came out of left field and I was like, “Oh…okay.”
This could have been a great book, but like so many, for me it fell extremely short of the “good” category. Suffice it to say, I will not be checking out any of its sequels.
Best wishes on your life full of adventure,