Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Review: Right to Remain Silent by Penny Warner (Connor Westphal #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, confusing mystery
Cons: Climax takes some thought but does make sense eventually
The Bottom Line:
Helping a deaf man
What does he know about case?
Book kept me engaged

I Won’t Remain Silent About This Book

When I find some time in my reading schedule not taken up by new releases, I try to move forward in older series I need to catch up on.  I’ve been able to do quite a bit of that in April, and I’m closing out the month with Right to Remain Silent, the third Connor Westphal Mystery from Penny Warner.

If you are new to this series, Connor is the owner and reporter of a weekly newspaper in Flat Skunk, a gold rush town in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California.  What sets her apart from many amateur sleuths is that she is deaf.  Fortunately, she is very proficient at lip reading, so she is still able to go out and interrogate suspects.

Sparkle Bodie was declared dead, but then came back to life at the funeral home.  She’s rushed to the hospital where she dies for real – smothered by a pillow.  The sheriff thinks that Sparkle’s son, Caleb, is responsible for her murder – the son that is deaf and has had very little interaction with anyone else.  Connor is asked by Sparkle’s other son to try to communicate with his brother and find out what really happened.  That is proving to be a challenge even before someone lets Caleb out of jail.  Can she prove he is innocent?

I already mentioned what makes Connor unique.  She still fits perfectly in the world of amateur sleuths.  She’s inquisitive and strong.  She keeps going until she gets the answers she needs.  I love getting to know her better with each book.  There are some other regulars in the book, and I enjoy them, although I did feel the sub-plot involving her boyfriend was a bit cliched.  That’s a minor complaint, however.  The suspects are also strong, and we spend plenty of time getting to know them and their secrets.

The plot is confusing with conflicting motives and many suspects.  I was guessing until the end, although Connor figured things out before I did.  I do feel the ending was a bit convoluted, and my first reaction was that it didn’t make sense.  But the more I read, as Connor went through what lead her to that conclusion, the more it did make sense to me.  So give it time to unfold, and you should be fine.

This book was originally published in the late 90’s, and it does show in several places.  For one thing, I keep thinking about how Connor’s life would change now that everyone is texting on cell phones.  Anyway, the author has the rights to the books back now and has released them as ebooks.  I read the original release, so I’m not sure if anything in the text was updated, but just remember the original publication date and you should be fine.

The book includes a bit of foul language, but it’s just a smattering.  It’s not something I usually see in cozies, so I’m mentioning it in passing.

I’m glad I’m finally reading Connor’s adventures.  Right to Remain Silent is an enjoyable mystery.  If you are looking for an older series, this is one for you.

Check out the rest of Connor Westphal’s mysteries.

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