Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: A Flicker of Doubt by Tim Myers (Candlemaking Mysteries #4)


Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Harrison is still a good main character
Cons: Sub-plots overshadow the mystery
The Bottom Line:
Back to a weak plot
But Harrison pulls us through
Average ender




Death of an Old Flame

Harrison Black, owner of the candle making shop At Wick's End, returns for his fourth mystery, A Flicker of Doubt. In the first in the series, he inherited the store and the building it is in from his great aunt. Now, he has to run his store, manage the tenants in the rest of the building, and solve the occasional murder.

Harrison is trying to fit in a quick morning kayak trip on the Gun Powder River behind his shop when he bumps into something. To his horror, he discovers it's a body. He's even more upset when he realizes its Becka Lane, his ex-girlfriend. While the two no longer dated, they had remained good friends.

Despite the fact that she was found in the river, the coroner declares her death an overdose. That immediately sets off warning bells in Harrison's mind. Becka hated pills. There's no way she would take them willingly. When the sheriff concludes it was a suicide, Harrison feels the need to investigate to find the murderer.

Unfortunately, Harrison is facing some other problems. A developer is trying to buy the undeveloped land next to his story and turn it into condos. When Harrison tries to visit his neighbor to talk to him about it, the man refuses to see him. And, two of Harrison's tenants are still feuding; each threatening not to sign a lease renewal if the other stays. How can he cope with all of this?

As with the other books in the series, Harrison is the glue that holds the story together. His honor and stubbornness make him instantly likeable, while his recklessness and lack of tact get him into all kinds of trouble. His relationship with Eve, his employee, is still rocky. I can never decide from one page to the next if I like her or not. I wish we'd really delve into her a little more in the series. Taking a larger role in this book is Harrison's friend Markum. He's always intrigued me, so I was glad to see more of him.

Unfortunately, the plot could have been better. Killing off a series character is always risky, but here it worked well. I'd never especially liked Becka, but I felt sorry at her demise. Too much time is spent on the other problems Harrison is facing, and not enough time is spent developing the mystery. That's probably because it was rather thin. I knew early on who the killer was. Even so, the ending felt a little abrupt.

The writing style is smooth, making the book easy to read. Harrison's first person narration helps us get into his head easier. Since he's my main reason for reading, I like that. At a slim 228 pages, including recipes and candle making tips, this is a fast read.

A Flicker of Doubt is not one of the stronger entries in the series. Fans of Harrison will still find it satisfying, but others should look elsewhere for a good read.

And if you enjoy this book, here are the rest of the Candlemaking Mysteries in order.

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