Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: Well-Offed in Vermont by Amy Patricia Meade (Pret' Near Perfect Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros:Fun characters and a good mystery
Cons: Back story slows things down at the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Enjoyable book
Despite an early stumble
Love the characters

Talk About Your Nightmare New House

While I often bemoan having too many books to read, I’m always on the lookout for a new author or series I might like.  That’s how I stumbled upon Amy Patricia Meade.  Well-Offed in Vermont is the first in a new series, it turns out this isn’t her first mystery.  I’m highly tempted to go back and find that other series since I enjoyed this one.

Stella and Nick Buckley have just traded in theirNew York Citylife for a small town inVermontso Nick can pursue his dream of being a forest ranger.  They arrive at their new home a few days early to begin unpacking only to find that their sinks are running with blood thanks to the body in their well.

The body was Allen Weston who was supposed to be there fixing their well.  He owned several related businesses in town, and all any of the locals can say is he was a good businessman.  With their house closed off as a crime scene, Nick and Stella have motivation to spend their sudden free time trying to track down the killer.  But their question soon becomes not who wanted Allen dead but who didn’t.

The first chapter of the book introduces us to Nick and Stella, and by the end, they’ve found the body.  So far so good, I thought.  The background wasn’t too obtrusive and they seemed like fun characters.  I was very worried when I hit the second chapter, however, since it gives us extensive background on two brand new characters.  Honestly, I think we didn’t need all that detail or at least not yet.  It stops the flow of the story.

But that’s my only real complaint with the book.

When the story gets going again, it moves ahead at a steady pace.  There’s the occasional slow spot that focuses on the fish out of water sub-plot of Nick and Stella in their new surroundings, but as the story progressed, even those fit into the story.  Like the characters, I decided that each new suspect they found had to be the killer, yet the ending surprised me.

And I loved Nick and Stella.  Here’s a couple who has been married for five years and is still madly in love with each other.  Their banter in the book is a real treat, and I smiled or laughed often.  The rest of the cast is made up of the usual cozy characters that range from normal to very off-kilter.  Yet they all felt real to me while I was reading the book.  In fact, there were some characters I was definitely rooting to not be the killer.

Over the course of the book, Nick and Stella have a few conversations about life in Vermont versus what people think life in Vermont is like.  I had to laugh since I have those same conversations about life in Southern California at times.

All told, Well-Offed in Vermont was an entertaining debut.  If you’re looking for a new mystery series, definitely check this one out.

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