I have a horrible, crippling obsession with historical cozy mysteries. I just cannot get away from them, no matter how I try. So it is no surprise when I saw this book coming out that I had to get it. However, while I don’t have this book, I also don’t love it. It was just so…okay.
Release date: April 10, 2018
Synopsis: Jane Prescott is a lady’s maid to the wealthy Benchley family in 1910, New York City. She is the type of person who hears everything but few notice. So when the Benchley’s youngest daughter’s playboy fiancé Norrie Newsome is brutally murdered at a party, Jane is uniquely suited to solve the mystery, with the help of noisy reporter Michael Behan.
I have extremely mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it was boring for the first half. I almost added it to my DNF list twice, but after the murder on page 50, there was just enough intrigue for me to read on. And, halfway through, I was glad I did. At about page 140, the book got good. In fact, if it was that good for the entire book, I would have given it five stars instead of the three I ended up giving it. Let me elaborate.
First, the bad.
I really dislike when authors have the main character tell the story from the future. Jane is telling this story when she is very old. In fact, after every other character is dead. Besides the very beginning and the very end, this adds nothing to the story and seems almost like filler. Also, it’s been used so much, it’s become a clique. Let me tell you a story that happened a long time ago, the true story that nobody knows…sound familiar?
The first fifty pages were contrived and boring. Jane was constantly telling the reader something horrible would happen, as if that was enough for me to continue reading to see. Many of the characters, while interesting, are never really developed enough to hold the story up by themselves. I find this with many mysteries. The mystery part just wasn’t brought in soon enough.
Now to the good.
I loved the mystery, especially as Jane and Behan began investigating the crime together. For a hundred pages (pg. 140 to 240), I was hooked. When the murderer was revealed, it made sense. The plot moved well, adding in enough red herrings to keep it interesting.
But the ending…the ending ruined any love I had for the middle. But that’s for the spoiler section.
Let me just rant for a minute about the ending!
The murderer is revealed! What a brilliant reveal! While you feel bad for her past and understand why she committed the murder, she still did an evil thing.
And then the story falls apart right after the final reveal. The murderer kills herself (not really, but wait for it) and her husband, making it look like anarchists did it. The innocent man in prison for Norrie’s murder is not exonerated and is later executed. Justice is not served. Behan and Jane don’t end up together. It skips forward to when Jane is in her nineties when she finds out the murderer is still alive.
I mean, what satisfaction is in that ending? If I spend hours reading a murder mystery, I want the murderer to be caught in the end. Of course there are exceptions (I’m looking at you, Murder on the Orient Express), but for the most part if the killer isn’t caught than the book is unsatisfactory.
Because there were some great parts, I can’t hate this book. Instead, I’m slightly disappointed. I confess the ending ruined it for me. It started off rough, but then I got into it only to reach the horrible ending.
I’m not sure if this book is going to be part of a series, but if it is I certainly won’t be reading any more. The author had such an interesting premise and characters, but the awkward telling-from-the-future and horrible ending really brought this book down in my estimation.
In the end, this book falls into the okay category. It wasn’t the worst, but also wasn’t the best.
I’m curious. In mysteries, do you guys need the murderer to be brought to justice to feel satisfied? Maybe it’s just me. I’m currently writing this at midnight to get it up by eight tomorrow morning, so forgive any typos that I’m too tired to fix…Anyway, let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness, and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,