Saturday, January 5, 2013

A NOVEL WAY TO DIE by Ali Brandon

Publisher:   Berkley
Date published:   November 6, 2012
ISBN:  978-0425251690
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Book format:  Paperback
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina

In the aftermath of having to let go one employee, Darla Pettistone is now looking for a new part-timer. An array of some pretty outstanding potential employees interview at Pettistone’s Fine Books but there is one last test none have managed to pass—the Hamlet test. The wily feline is mighty picky about who he wants in his realm and he’s not too nice about his manner dismissing applicants he doesn’t think will be the best fit. That is, until Robert enters the store. For some reason Hamlet figures the teen is a good fit and the two quickly become BFFs (best friends forever) with Hamlet even doing his version of a fist bump with Robert.

But Robert has some secrets such as his former employer and what happened there, the matter of where he lives and another employer he works part time for. When the daughter of a neighbouring shop owner goes missing it appears Robert may have some information regarding what happened to her as well.

Not only does the young woman go missing. Apparently she has ties to a recent murder victim. Unwittingly Darla ends up in the middle of not only the missing daughter but she has ties to the murder victim. On top of that, Hamlet has found a way out of the apartment/bookstore brownstone he and Darla inhabit and no one can find how he is escaping.

While Darla and Detective Reese seemed to have a romantic connection blossoming, friendship seems to be the only relationship in their future. That doesn’t mean Darla is without some romance in her life, or at least it could be blossoming. But with a murder investigation underfoot romance is taking a backseat, especially after Hamlet delves into the investigation himself with his own kitty insights. Things are moving along until Darla gets a little too close to the killer.

Book two of Ali Brandon’s Black Cat Book Shop Mysteries, A NOVEL WAY TO DIE reacquaints readers with some characters they met in book one, DOUBLE BOOKED FOR DEATH and introduces a few new neighbours and friends. We also have a chance to get to know a few other secondary characters a bit better, such as Robert, Hilda and Mary Ann. I liked how your average, every day kind of people are portrayed as interesting, especially through Darla’s eyes when she considers Barry Eisen as a potential romantic partner. He’s your basic, every day kind of normal guy….or is he?

A NOVEL WAY TO DIE is more focused on Darla than a mix of the other characters like Jake and Reese. I liked their presence more in DOUBLE BOOKED FOR DEATH, especially with how Jake seemed to be blowing Darla off in this one, A NOVEL WAY TO DIE. I understood her caution, but her absence came across rather awkward than based in need. I missed some of the banter Darla shared with Reese in book 1 as well.

When it came to Hamlet, well how can you not love him? But there was more telling about his character than showing. He seemed more relegated to secondary character than a main one.

Still, Hamlet is definitely a cat’s cat. His alpha nature reminded me of my female cat who happens to also be black with a little white triangle on her belly, just like Hamlet. She too would battle anyone who got in her way or tried to harm her colony.

A NOVEL WAY TO DIE is a bit grittier than DOUBLE BOOKED FOR DEATH and I liked how it takes Darla a little deeper into her own crime solving. The twist in who done it was well done. I’m eager for book 3! 

Each book is a standalone and you do not have to read the series in order. Except for meeting some of the major characters they books can be read out of order and you won’t feel like you missed anything.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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