Thursday, May 23, 2013

A KILLER READ by Erika Chase

Publisher:   Berkley

Date published:   April 3, 2012
ISBN:  978-0425247037
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Book format: Paperback
Obtained via:  Publisher
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina


Lizzie Turner is working her passion as a reading specialist in the small town of Ashton Corners. She teaches and assesses reading skills at the local school by day and spends her evenings at her friend, Molly’s, as part of a literacy project. As an adjunct to that project she has invited some of her students to participate in the mystery book club that meets at Molly’s house. As the members select the upcoming reads one night a stranger bursts into the house uninvited. He demands to use the phone and then, despite the group’s attempts to invite him to stay, he abruptly leaves. At the end of the evening the stranger is found, dead, in his car.

Police Chief Mark Dreyfus is newly back in Ashton Corners after his time in the Army. Life has thrown some curves at Mark but he is determined to do a good job as Chief of Police. When the call goes out that a man was found dead—murdered—at the book club Mark takes the call. There he reconnects with Lizzie. Well, not that they connected in high school. Mark was a hot shot football player and Lizzie was lost in her books. That doesn’t mean she didn’t notice him and she certainly notices him now. While Mark would like to believe Lizzie and her friends are free from suspicion the lead officer on the case, Amber Craig, is certain one of the bibliophiles is the killer.

Determined to prove she and her friends are innocent Lizzie embarks on her own investigation. Before she can get too far some strange things start to happen including the appearance of a manuscript that sure looks like someone’s life story. Can she find the killer before he…or she…finds Lizzie?

Through a good portion of Erika Chase’s A KILLER READ I wondered “where was the editor?” While at the very least I felt the author should have caught most of the misses in this book the editor should have been on his or her game. When Andie shows up late to the book club her appearance is almost lost. At first it sounded like the body was found outside the house but then we’re told he was in his car. It sounded like Bob found the body but then the story picks up that Andie did. There were other areas that the story’s threads seemed to change in mid-stream.

The story was formulaic in a lot of ways—not that that is a bad thing. Sometimes it’s nice to know what’s coming next and how it is going to work out. In A KILLER READ for a good part of the book I felt like the author had made a list of elements that sell in a cozy and checked them off item by item as she included them. Much was made of Mark being bald without giving readers any insight as to just what was going on with him. Some rumination about what happened to him would have made for a better read. There were points when I wasn’t sure if Molly or Lizzie were the lead character.  I liked Molly quite a bit and enjoyed her perspectives.

As this was a debut I will continue reading the series to see where the author takes it. There is always room for growth and there is the potential for a really fun series from this one.

Because of the recurrence of the church choir and church references I think this book would appeal to people of a mainstream spiritual bent or at least choir members. That’s not to say cozy fans won’t enjoy it as some of the characters are pretty darn interesting.

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


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