Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: Murder with a Twist by Tracy Kiely (Nic & Nigel Mysteries #1)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun, good characters, fun, good mystery, fun
Cons: What part of fun three times did you not understand?
The Bottom Line:
This Thin Man tribute
Is highly entertaining
Lots of fun for all




Loving Homage and Delightful Mystery

As soon as I heard about Murder with a Twist, I knew I had to read it.  Author Tracy Kiely described it as an homage to The Thin Man stories, and since I loved those, I wanted to see how this modern take would be.  I’m pleased to say it lived up to my expectations.

Nicole “Nic” and her husband Nigel Martini are in New York for Christmas, spending it with Nigel’s extremely rich family.  While the couple live in Los Angeles, Nic is a former homicide cop with the NYPD.  And the family wants to use her background to help them find Nigel’s cousin Audrey’s husband.  It seems that Leo is a cade only interested in Audrey’s trust fund and not a very good husband, but Audrey is insisting that her husband be there for her 25th birthday party set for the week after Christmas.

The trail quickly leads Nic and Nigel to one of Nic’s old contacts on the shady side of the law, Frank Little, a money lender with less than scrupulous practices and ties to even worse men.  But when a dead body appears, Nic has to wonder what she has gotten into.  Will she find Leo?  Or is Audrey really better off if Leo never comes home?

Those who are fans of The Thin Man will immediately start noticing similarities.  Our main character is former homicide cop Nic instead of former PI Nick.  Like the first story, this one is set at Christmas.  And the couple even has a dog, although in this case the dog is extremely large.  The similarities don’t end there, and I guarantee you that any fan will be smiling as they read the book.

But here’s the thing – even if you’ve never read Hammett’s book or seen the movies, you will still absolutely enjoy this book.  You might not appreciate all the nods to the original, but this book stands up on its own.

Take the mystery.  It starts off quickly and pulls us through the entire book.  We get plenty of twists and surprises before we reach the logical ending.  And that ending?  Nic confronting all of the suspects at dinner, of course.  Yet another Thin Man reference that has gone out of style but I enjoyed seeing here since it isn’t used much anymore.

Likewise, the characters are fantastic.  Some of them are larger than life, but they fit their part in the story and the universe that is being created here.  Nic and Nigel are very well drawn and believable.  You can’t help but love them.

Plus there’s the money element.  Who wouldn’t love to have as much money as the Martini’s obviously do?  It’s nice to dream a bit as you read, isn’t it?

The story is filled with humor.  Sometimes, it’s the antics of the Martini’s new dog, Skippy.  Others, it’s the quips and wit of the characters, usually Nic and Nigel.  I found myself laughing out loud multiple times as the book progressed, although I did find the book got more serious as the stakes in the mystery got higher.  Still, we’d get those lines that break up the tension even late in the book.

This book has been on my radar for two years and in my condo for about a year.  I am so sorry I waited that long to read it.  Don’t make my mistake and pick up Murder with a Twist today.

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