Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Book Review: A Penny for Your Thoughts by Mindy Starns Clark (Million Dollar Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Callie, plot
Cons: Writing is stiff
The Bottom Line:
Writing makes it hard
But the book does draw you in
Makes you want the next

Debut Worth More Than a Penny

This book represents a mistake in my life. Because I'm an accountant, the title jumped off the shelf at me when it first came out. Not only is the book called A Penny for Your Thoughts, but it is the first of The Million Dollar Mysteries. Yet I waited two years before I read it. The mistake? I waited that long.

The book stars Callie Webber. She's a former private eye who now works for a mysterious man named Tom. Tom is the head of the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation, a non-profit that gives much needed funds to worthy charities across America. Callie's job is to investigate the charities before hand and make sure they really are worthy.

Callie is looking forward to a week's rest as soon as she drops off one last check for Tom. The check is for Tom's old friend Wendell Smythe, so Callie doesn't need to investigate first. But when Wendell says the money is only a loan to Feed the Need and not a gift, Callie finds herself with an hour's paperwork to do. Returning to his office with the proper forms all filled out, she finds Wendell dead. The police quickly rule it a murder and ask Callie to stay in town as a material witness. Then Tom asks Callie to investigate. And how can she turn her boss down?

Staying with the Smythes gives Callie easy access to her prime suspects. But beneath the surface of a seemingly happy family lurks some sinister secrets. Who is leaving threatening messages for daughter-in-law Sidra? What drove Sidra and her husband Derek apart? What was going on at Feed the Need? And does any of this have anything to do with the murder?

Meanwhile, Callie is finding her own emotions hard to deal with. Being around this much sadness and death is reminding her too much of the death of her own husband. Can God help her deal with her own renewed emotions and solve the case?

Ok, so I've stated I loved the book. What made it so great? For starters, Callie was a very human character and I found myself chocking up on more then one occasion with the hurt she was going through. She's also strong and fun to hang out with. The supporting characters are equally well developed, and I found myself equally hoping they were innocent or guilty.

I will admit the story started a little slowly. It gained speed quickly, however. The twists came so fast in the final 100 pages I stayed up much later then was wise to finish. I never saw the ending coming, either.

This is a Christian mystery, and Callie's faith in God is central to who she is. While I didn't mind the overt Christianity, it might turn off some readers.

The only flaw in the book is the writing style. It's a little stiff at times as the author occasionally tells instead of shows. Additionally, she over describes. It bothered me at first, but I soon got so caught up in the story I didn't even notice. This feels like a first novel, so that probably explains the flaws here. The author does get more polished as she goes along.

Once I realized my mistake, I quickly rectified it and read the rest of Mindy Starns Clark's books, which I also loved.

Don't make the same mistake I did. Read A Penny for Your Thoughts today.

You'll definitely want to read the rest of the Million Dollar Mysteries in order.

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