Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review: Death in Paradise by Carolyn Hart (Henrie O #4)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Interesting characters; first few chapters
Cons: Slow plot
The Bottom Line:
Henrie O likes twists?
Not in this book she doesn't
Plot should be better

Henrie O's Personal Mystery Needed More Twists

Henrietta Collins, nicknamed Henrie O because of all the twists her personal life takes, is the lesser known sleuth of popular mystery author Carolyn Hart. Unlike the better known Death on Demand series, Death in Paradise is only the fourth of seven about the sixtyish widowed reporter. Being the out of the box person that I am, this was the series I started reading. And I've enjoyed the previous books in the series. This was an unfortunate exception.

It's been six years since Henrie O's life was shattered by the death of her husband, Richard, in a tragic accident on Kauai. While she has tried her best to move on, there is still a void in her life.

Which is why her world is shattered by a poster she receives in the mail that claims that Richard's death was murder. Unable to let that knowledge go uninvestigated, Henrie starts following his last few days through Dallas to Kauai.

On Kauai, she joins the family of Richard's close friend Belle Ericcson. It was on Belle's estate that Richard took his fatal plunge. And Henrie is beginning to suspect that his death had something to do with the kidnapping and murder of Belle's oldest daughter. Could a member of Belle's family be a killer?

The book started well. The first part of the trail was interesting as Henrie gathered background in Dallas and arrived in Kauai.

But then she arrived in Kauai.

At this point, the book slowed way down. We got further background on the potential suspects. And more background. Every so often, things would pick up as Henrie would get another clue or some event would happen. But then we'd get pages of Henrie shifting that piece of information through everything she already knew, analyzing how that fit with all the suspects motives. Now I can't complain fully because that is how I'd handle things myself. But it makes for a very sluggish read.

Not even the climax helped things. While it certainly worked logically, it was rather weak.

Then there's Henrie O. I completely understand that the events of this book would be emotionally hard on her. But I got tired of reading her memories of life with Richard. And she was constantly thinking about how she had to keep her emotions in check and could fall apart. The repetitiveness got old.

The other characters were a lively, interesting bunch. They could have made for a dynamic book if they were given the time to truly shine. Instead, the bits and pieces we got to see only left us wanting more.

Ms. Hart is a gifted writer, able to create a scene or mood with ease. That is evident here as well as she paints a vivid picture of the surroundings. I especially enjoyed that since I was just on Kauai two months ago myself. However, this was also a weakness as the descriptions and mood writing helped slow things down yet again.

Every so often, good writers turn out a book that isn't up to their normal standards. Death in Paradise is one of those books for Carolyn Hart. Don't judge her other books by this one because I have truly enjoyed everything else I have read.

And if you are looking for others in the series, here are the Henrie O. Mysteries in order.

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