Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Stamped Out by Terri Thayer (Stamping Sisters Mysteries #1)

Stars: 1 out of 5
Pros: Some of the supporting characters were good.
Cons: I didn't like the majority of the characters; poor plot
The Bottom Line:
By the numbers plot
Characters struggle to like
No reason to read

Stamp This Book Right Out of Your to Be Read Pile

At one point, my whole family was into rubber stamping. We'd make all our own cards. And we had a blast doing it. So when I noticed that a stamping themed mystery series was coming, I quickly put it on my must read list. Unfortunately, I'm sorry I did because Stamped Out was hugely disappointing.

April Buchert has done what she swore she would never do, return to her home town. But after her marriage fell apart, returning to Pennsylvania seems like the best option. And the fact that her father has offered her a job doing custom wall stamping, her specialty, certainly helps.

But April's first day on the job, a nearby demolition unearths a skull. Since it was a site that April's father had worked on 10 years before, he's a logical person of interest, especially for the local sheriff who seems to have it in for April's family. April knows the only way to clear her father's name is to figure out what really happened all those years ago. Can she find the trail?

Frankly, nothing works in this book. The plot starts out slowly and only gets worse from there. The first few chapters set up character, so it's a while before the skull is actually found. Once that happens, things alternate between April working on finding out what happened and trying to restore a painting (even though she doesn't know what she is doing.) The confrontation with the killer is suspenseful, but a major aspect of the mystery is inadequately resolved in passing.

Unfortunately, the characters don't fare much better. April comes across as a selfish brat more then a main character should. Her mother is annoyingly clingy. Her father is stressed out all the time. The sheriff gave me the creeps. And the suspects weren't exactly likeable either. I wanted all of them to be guilty. All of this leads to some relationship sub-plots that are resolved so quickly and out of the blue that it doesn't satisfy.

Now I'm not going to say all the characters were bad. April's best friend and her husband were likable. I liked the new love interest. And two minor characters from a stamping group April joins made me smile every time they showed up. But these just didn't have enough page time to make up for the others.

The writing in the book was adequate. Nothing special, but nothing that caused me to stumble or reread sentences. However, there were lots of copy edit problems, mostly with missing or misplaced quotation marks. I know that isn't the author's fault, but it did annoy me.

I was hoping that Stamped Out would be the beginning of another fun series I would enjoy for some time to come. Instead, it read like a first draft that needed some serious editing advice. I won't be back.

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