Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: The Belen Hitch by Pari Noskin Taichert (Sasha Solomon #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, fun writing
Cons: Weak ending
The Bottom Line:
Great main characters
But ending could be better
Overall still good

The Only Hitch is the Ending

Sasha Solomon is a public relations consultant. In addition to her regular clients in her native Albuquerque, she works as a consultant for various small towns in New Mexico helping them attract tourists. In The Belen Hitch, the second mystery in the series, she is working for the town of Belen, a small community about half an hour from her home.

Sasha's assignment in Belen is to help them decide between two competing proposals for the old restaurant near the train tracks. Part of the town wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast train museum. The other part thinks it would make a great art gallery, especially since local artist Phillipa Petty has promised some of her pieces.

The thing about Phillipa is that she's controversial. Her art attacks religious figures from all over the world. She also happens to be a friend of Sasha's mom, so Sasha figures this is a great place to start.

However, when she arrives at Phillipa's house, Sasha finds the artist dead. Sasha's mom takes the news hard, and begs Sasha to find out what happened to her friend. Was it the train faction trying to shoot down their competition? Or is their something even more sinister involved?

The plot starts off strong and continues to build. There are so many great twists and red herrings that I wasn't sure what was really happening. Unfortunately, the ending was weak. I prefer mysteries where the main character figures things out. Here, while Sasha figures a few things out and the climax is gripping, many things are explained to her at the end. Still, all the loose ends are tied up, and everything was explained to my satisfaction.

The characters help make the book strong. Sasha is charming and human. Her eating habits are funny, especially eating whipped creamed straight from the can, and as a fellow single, I can relate. I love her love interest in this book and hope to see him again. Her best friend, Darnda, brings a touch of the paranormal to the story since she's a psychic. Then there are the new characters. Belen is populated with a bunch of unique people. They stand out from each other, and I had no problem keeping the characters straight.

The book is narrated first person by Sasha. Every so often, she throws in a fun observation on the proceedings that just add to the fun. The writing style is light, making for a quick, easy read with the occasional clever turn of phrase that makes you stop and read it again.

All told, The Belen Hitch is a solid second effort. Despite the one flaw, I'm looking forward to Sasha's third case.

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