Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Characters (once developed), plot (overall), humor
Cons: Characters (when introduced), plot (too fast at times)
The Bottom Line:
Story paced too fast
Whole thing needed to settle
To make book better
Needed Some Lower Speeds
Over the last year, I started hearing lots of praise for author Duffy Brown, but her consignment shop series just didn’t appeal to me. When I learned she was starting a Cycle Path Mystery series, I knew I’d found a series to try. Unfortunately, Geared for the Grave wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be.
Evie Bloomfield is desperate for a promotion, so desperate she will do anything to win favor with her boss. That’s why she heads to Mackinac Island to help Rudy Randolph, her boss’s father, who has broken his leg. Rudy runs one of the bike shops on the island, and there are several since cars aren’t allowed.
However, when Evie arrives, she walks in on an argument between Rudy and Bunny Harrington, a wealthy citizen of the island who wants to shut Rudy’s shop down. Then an hour later, she finds Bunny dead from an apparent bike accident. When it is ruled murder, Rudy becomes the chief suspect. Suddenly, Evie needs to clear him of murder to keep her job. But can she do it?
Now I know I often talk about the pacing of a plot being slow. I’m going to say the opposite here – the story was way too fast. The first chapter ends with Evie finding Bunny’s body. That’s on page 10. And we’ve already met five characters and witnessed the fight with Rudy. I’ve read books that started with a murder that quickly, but this one was just too rushed. Honestly, it felt like a later book in a series where we were supposed to already know who some of the regulars were, but that wasn’t the case, and I was left running, trying to catch up to the bicycle that was the author’s story. Once I did get into the rhythm, I enjoyed it. The pace never really slowed. I wouldn’t say that anything was rushed, but some of the conclusions to the sub-plots (and there are several) seemed abrupt. One in particular that was introduced late seemed like it should have lasted at least an entire book, and preferably the second or third in the series.
I’m all for eccentric characters. I love them. But this book had some pretty wild ones – at least at first. They seemed more real as the book went along, but when we first met them, they were wild caricatures instead of real people.
Normally, I’m not annoyed by characters who do stupid things, but Evie seemed more stupid than normal. And everyone wanted to help her do stupid things to solve the case. Meanwhile, a few of the plot points I saw coming a mile away. I didn’t guess the killer until the end, however, so that much was great.
Now, this book wasn’t entirely bad. As I said, once I found the rhythm and got to know the characters better, I did enjoy much of the story. There was some nice humor along the way that made me smile if not outright laugh. One of my favorites was a recurring bit where the town’s people, in an effort to keep the murder quiet from the tourists, constantly referred to it as the Bunny Festival. That never got old.
While there were some flaws, there was also stuff to enjoy with Geared for the Grave. I’m not sorry I stuck with it, but I probably won’t be back to visit Evie in the sequel.