Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong main character; decent mystery
Cons: Pacing a time or two; needlessly graphic details in second half
The Bottom Line:
A strong character
Faces interesting case
A bit too graphic
Earlier this year, I read my first book by Alice Loweecey, and I completely enjoyed it. I immediately wanted to back up and see where it all began for her characters with Force of Habit.
This is the book that introduced us to Giulia Falcone, a former nun who has left the convent and is now trying to figure out how to make her way in the world. She’s 29, been out of the convent for 10 months, and been disowned by her family. She’s landed a job working for PI Frank Driscoll. Things appear to be going well, although she does have to fight her attraction to her boss.
Then they land the case of a stalker. Someone is leaving notes for Blake Parker, a former high school friend of Frank’s. Because Blake doesn’t want his reputation to suffer, he comes to Frank instead of going to the police. Blake is getting notes with Bible quotes from Song of Solomon while his fiancée is getting threatening notes with quotes from the prophets. As part of her job, Giulia interviews Blake’s ex-girlfriends since they are the most likely suspects. She doesn’t get anywhere, but suddenly, she finds herself the target of the notes as well. Can she and Frank figure out who the stalker is?
The first book I read to star Giulia was edging toward the darker side of the cozy genre, but it featured some very funny bantered that helped keep the book light. This book does have the banter, although not nearly as much of it. And it is definitely dark. I definitely wouldn’t classify this book as a cozy since there is some language and quite a bit about sex here, both as Giulia struggles with her life outside the convent and because of this case.
Now, that’s not to say that this book is bad. Far from it. It’s just a warning before stepping into this book. Having said that, I do feel that the book went too far in the second half. I think we could have gotten the point without all the details that were provided, but maybe that’s just me.
Part of the content flows out of Giulia and where she is at this point in her life. She is truly struggling with who she is after having left the convent. It made her a very human character, and I identified with her even though I’ve never gone through anything similar myself. That’s great writing and character development. While this book is definitely Giulia’s story, we do get to know some series regulars here, and I like what I saw of them.
And the mystery? It appears to get bogged down a time or two, but never for very long. Still, things could be a bit tighter. It’s a first mystery, and I know that Alice does get better with her plotting as things go along.
I wish this book hadn’t included the details it did, but I don’t regret reading Force of Habit.
Check out more of Giulia's cases.
This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.