Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Brush with Death by Karen MacInerney (Gray Whale Inn Mysteries #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong stories and main characters
Cons: Weak supporting characters
The Bottom Line:
Artistic murder
Just one problem Natalie
Must solve in this book

Murder Creates a Still Life

I came very close to reading Brush with Death several months ago, but right before I started reading it, I discovered that it was set at Christmas time, so I decided to set it aside until December.  But it really doesn’t matter when you read it since it is an enjoyable book period.

This is the fifth in the Gray Whale Inn Mysteries featuring Natalie Barnes, the owner of a bed and breakfast on Cranberry Island, just off the coast of Maine.  She’s been there for three years now, and even though the population is small, Natalie has now stumbled on five dead bodies.

Cranberry Island is turning into an artist retreat – or so it seems to Natalie.  Her niece, Gwen, is getting ready for a showing of some of her paintings, if she can master a new medium.  There is trouble brewing between Gwen’s mentor Fernand another artist, Zelda Chu, who are both talking about establishing artist retreats.  And then there’s visiting artist Nina Torrone who is coming to the island for a little solitude.

The day after Fernand throws a big party for Nina, Natalie finds Fernand dead.  It looks like suicide, but Gwen insists it was murder.  After all, Fernand was planning a trip with his boyfriend and helping Gwen prepare for her show.  But if Fernand was murdered, who did it?

There are times when I read a book set at Christmas, and the timing screams through in the story.  That wasn’t the case here.  Yes, there was snow and occasional references to decorations or a holiday food, but it wasn’t as big a part of the book as I expected.

There was so much happening that’s only a minor issue, however.  The murder is only a portion of the book with multiple sub-plots happening as well.  Everything is juggled perfectly, leaving us with a book that is very hard to put down.  I was always anxious to figure out what would happen next with one storyline or another, and the fact that I had a few things figured out early wasn’t an issue since I wanted to know what would happen with the rest.

Natalie is always a great main character, and I loved her again here.  She is strong and smart although still flawed, which just makes me like her more.  Her family is equally as well developed.  The other residents on the island didn’t seem quite as strong here as they have in the past, but I still enjoyed spending time with them.  And the characters brought in for this book were strong enough to keep me engaged in their fates.

As always, this book contains several recipes for items Natalie made over the course of the story.  Someday, I really need to try the recipes from this series – they always sound so good.

While this book may not scream Christmas, it is still a very fun read.  So if you are looking for a little peace and quiet with a murder thrown in, book a trip to Brush with Death.

And then you'll want to book more trips with the Gray Whale Inn Mysteries in order.

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