Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book Review: Elementary, My Dear Watkins by Mindy Starns Clark (Smart Chick Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Engrossing story that wraps up a great series
Cons: Danny's story, occasional writing issues
The Bottom Line:
Fans of the first two
Won't want to put down this book
Best read in order

There's Nothing Elementary About this Wonderful Novel

Elementary, My Dear Watkins is the third and (unfortunately) final book in the Smart Chick Mysteries. Over the past two books, we've watched best friends Jo Tulip and Danny Watkins move from friends to something more. As the last book ended, Danny had made plans to leave for Europe for a six month internship that could really boost his career.

This book opens almost two months later, with Jo still trying to recover from her run in with a maniac. Her life gets more complicated when she gets an anonymous e-mail telling her that her life is in danger. The police just aren't taking it very seriously, however.

Then her ex-fiance comes back into her life. Bradford has a bomb shell of his own. He finally explains why he left her at the alter six months before. But then he, too, warns her that her life is in danger. Before he can explain any more, someone tries to kill Jo, but Bradford winds up hurt instead.

Meanwhile, half a world away, Danny's internship is going extremely well. In fact, he's just gotten the opportunity to work for one of his professional heroes on a photo shoot. He happily heads out, unaware of the problems Jo is facing back home and just how they might affect his future.

Once again, Mindy Starns Clark has written a wonderful novel that mixes mystery with romantic suspense. It takes quite a while to figure out how Danny's storyline ties in with the rest of the book, but it does eventually do so. And that's the only complaint. Jo's plot is riveting, and actually ties together threads that had been hanging since book one. Obviously, this entire series had been well planned in advance. This is a Christian series, but it isn't preachy. Instead, it makes the Christian elements a natural part of the story.

Jo and Danny are wonderful characters to spend time with, and it's so easy to root for them. Over the course of the novel, we get to know Jo's family and finally understand more about why Jo feels the way she does about them. Yet even these characters aren't one dimensional but show off some bits of complexity. There are a couple one dimensional characters here, but that's a result of how little page time they get.

The book is basically well written, using multiple viewpoints to tell the entire story. The author does occasionally tell us how a character feels instead of showing us, but again, this is a minor complaint.

You really do need to read this trilogy in order, but they are great reads. Be sure to set aside plenty of time because these books will draw you in and not let you go until the final page.  Trust me, you'll be finishing Elementary, My Dear Watkins before you know it.

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