Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: A Vicky Hill Exclusive! by Hannah Dennison (Vicky Hill #1)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A good mystery with a strong start...
Cons: ...destroyed by all the characters, but especially the main character.
The Bottom Line:
Decent mystery
Too bad characters were bad
A series to skip

I Didn't Exclusively Hate This Book, But It Came Close

When I first heard about Hannah Dennison's debut mystery, I thought it sounded like fun. The protagonist is a novice newspaper woman in a modern, small English village. So I picked up A Vicky Hill Exclusive! and started reading. The book started out as the fun romp I was expecting, but it quickly went down hill and never recovered.

Novice newswoman Vicky Hill is desperate to get a front page exclusive. But she is stuck reporting on the funerals in the small village of Gipping in England while Annabel Lake, who was hired after Vicky, gets sent on all the best assignments.

But when Annabel faces a bout of food poisoning, Vicky jumps on the chance and takes on of her tips. The dustman has found some mutilated chicken corpses, and he things something may be afoot.

Meanwhile, Vicky must cover the funeral of Sir Hugh Trewallyn, a local aristocrat and hedge jumping enthusiast. But why is Vicky's land lady hiding in the bushes outside the church? Who is the strange man the widow attacks after the service? Did Sir Hugh really die of natural causes? And how does all this tie into those chickens?

I immediately sympathized with Vicky and was willing to spend the book rooting for her. Here's a woman who is trying to make it in the world despite setbacks. Yes, she was a little naive, but that didn't bother me. But as the book progressed, I really began to tire of that naivety. Vicky keeps putting herself in positions where she has to trust Annabel when the woman clearly wants to harm her professional career. Heck, she trusts everyone, even those she suspects of murder. Then there's the issue of her virginity. She is obsessed with losing it, and thinks that half the cast, male and female, is after it. This lead to some awkward scenes I found more painful then funny.

Honestly, the rest of the cast isn't much better. Maybe it's because the book is narrated from Vicky's point of view and that colored my view, but I found most of them to be repulsive. About the only one I truly liked was Barbara, the receptionist at the newspaper.

The one thing that kept me going was the story. It was quite interesting with several good twists and turns. Of course, Vicky managed to ruin this part, too. Every time she got a new clue, she would spin a new theory out of it. But they were all pretty far fetched and confused things more then they really needed to be. I found the ending a little weak, but it did tie in all the loose ends from the plot, so that was rather impressive.

The writing was consistently fine. I had no problems with the few British phrases stuck in. It read plenty fast, which was another blessing.

How I wish that A Vicky Hill Exclusive! had continued along the lines of the first few chapters. As it is, I will be skipping further books in the series.

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