Capable of Murder by Brian Kavanagh. Available from BeWrite Books at Smashwords.com.
Summary: “The old lady’s decaying body lay at the foot of the stairs. The police believe it was simply an accidental fall that killed great-aunt Jane. But was it? Young Australian, Belinda Lawrence is convinced it was murder and when she inherits her great-aunt’s ancient cottage and garden on the outskirts of Bath, England, she finds herself deep in a taut mystery surrounding her legacy.”
A murder mystery, in an old English cottage, with a female protagonist!? When I read the description of this book, I bought it immediately. I have a soft spot for all these components, if you didn’t already know that. Bonus points if it has codes but that’s another discussion altogether…
Belinda’s elderly great-aunt Jane falls down the stairs in her cottage and dies before passing on some seemingly important piece of information. Distant relative Belinda travels to Bath at her great-aunt’s request, discovers the dead body, and ends up inheriting the house and moving in for good. Some strange neighbors and villagers seemingly aid Belinda’s investigation, but none of them are trustworthy.
A big part of this novel is gardening and botanical talk and it gives the novel a pleasant little quirk, especially paired with a murder mystery. Someone who knows more about gardening than I do will take more away from that facet of the book, but I found it enjoyable all the same. It wouldn’t be necessary to have any prior knowledge.
The interactions between the characters, especially Belinda and the various males she encounters are unnatural in a couple of places. The plot isn’t really affected by this but it did cause me a couple of “pshaw!” moments.
The Bottom Line: The book is a nice read, it’s not too intense, and it’s a good whodunit you can take to the beach this summer.
Thin Blood by Vicki Tyley.
I heard of this book when the author kindly brought it to everyone’s attention at mobileread.com.
Available for $3.97 at Smashwords.com.
Summary: “A stockbroker’s wife disappears. Blood on his hands and an adulterous affair with the missing woman’s younger sister sees him charged with murder. With no body and only circumstantial evidence he walks free. Ten years later, journalist Jacinta Deller decides to investigate, only to become embroiled in a warped game of delusion and murder.”
Story score: 4.5/5. This is one novel I grudged putting down, even to sleep or get on with household chores. The characters are believable, especially the protagonist, Jacinta Deller. She’s a woman whose drive to succeed in the workplace sometimes overshadows her personal relationships, but through her struggles she’s never trite or helpless. It would be fabulous if this were a series, so we could find out more about how things turn out with Jacinta and her stepbrother.
Editing score: 5/5. Thin Blood looks great and reads great. Word choice is varied and sentence and paragraph structures are interesting. Nothing to complain about!
Style score: 5/5. It’s written in a style that makes you forget you’re reading at all. The story flows so easily that before you know what’s happened, fifty pages are gone. It practically reads itself.
The author is brilliant at giving exactly enough detail, for example: time drags when Jacinta is home alone at night and hearing noises outside (as it should), but the details of Jacinta’s work day that don’t have much of a bearing on the story are finished in one paragraph. Overall Thin Blood moves at a nice canter from person to person and incident to incident.
The Big Picture: This comes highly recommended from me. If you like murder mysteries, female sleuths, or both, this is a must-read. I thought I had the mystery solved until the very end, but I was wrong.
I will definitely be telling my friends about this book.
Visit the author’s website at vickityley.com to receive a Smashwords coupon code to download this book free! Good through February 28, 2010.