Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge (Hamptons Home and Garden Mysteries #2)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good character, interesting mystery
Cons: Too much extraneous stuff slows down the plot
The Bottom Line:
Too much background here
Slows down story most of book
Overwhelms the good

Too Many Distractions.  Again.

I had a mixed reaction to the first book in the Hamptons Home and Garden series, but I enjoyed the ending and I really wanted to like the series, so I gave Hearse and Gardens a try.  Sadly, it didn’t improve any on the flaws of the first book.

Meg Barrett and her friend Elle Warner are excited to be given access to one of the cottages on Elle’s great-uncle’s estate.  The cottage is about to be moved, but first, the pair can go in and remove anything they think they can use for their antique and decorating businesses.  While they are exploring the cottage, they find a door to a long forgotten recording studio.  Inside the studio is a skeleton.

Everyone is quick to assume that the skeleton belongs to Great Uncle Harry’s son who disappeared well over a decade ago.  But if those are his remains, who locked him in the studio?  Everyone assumed he ran off with the neighbor’s wife.  Where is she?  Is she dead as well, or is she the killer?  And what about the rare Warhol painting the duo supposedly stole?

The book starts off very quickly as we find the skeleton in the first few pages.  However, the pace lags after that.  Meg goes about her life, including a feud with another decorator and a legal fight over the cottage he’d bought for herself.  Actually, I found those sub-plots more compelling than the main mystery at times.  Plus we get long passages describing places and things that Meg has found or giving us the history of the Hamptons.  The mystery does have some good twists, but most of them come in the final third of the book, and once the pace picked up, I again got very interested in it.

The characters are certainly interesting.  Meg is a strong character, and I appreciate her partial hearing loss since it is something different for a protagonist in a cozy series.  There are a few returning characters, and I enjoyed seeing them again.  The new characters are outstanding as well, and I never had a hard time keeping them all straight.

The book has some decorating tips at the end as well as two recipes from Meg’s dad, a gourmet chef.

I wish the pacing of this book were better because there is much to like in Hearse and Gardens.  As it stands, this will be my last visit with Meg to the Hamptons.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.

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