Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Read 'Em and Eat Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Characters, setting, realistic reactions to death
Cons: Pacing uneven with the plot
The Bottom Line:
Unlikely victim
Leads us to uneven plot
In lovable cast

Plot Doesn’t Live Up to Characters and Setting

Last month, many of the blogs I read were talking about and reviewing Well Read, Then Dead, the first in a new mystery series from Terrie Farley Moran.  Being the rebel that I am, I waited until this month to read it.  (Okay, so it might have had something to do with just not having time to read it myself until this month.)  Unfortunately, I didn’t love it quite as much as everyone else did.

When life threw them lemons, Sassy and Bridgy headed south.  The lifelong friends went from New York to Florida and opened a combination café and bookstore called Read ‘Em and Eat on the Barrier Island of Fort Myers Beach.  Over the last few years, they’ve made friends, especially through the book clubs that Sassy runs.

Which is why it is upsetting and shocking when Delia Batson turns up dead one morning.  Even more surprising is that it was murder.  Delia was a quiet woman who would never cross anyone if she could help it.  When her cousin, Augusta, asks Sassy to look into the murder, she begins to stick her nose into the investigation.  But what will she find?

Many people praised the characters and setting, and that much is completely true.  These were real people, and I enjoyed spending time with them.  Likewise, I loved the setting and would enjoy visiting in real life.  Unlike many of the books I read, the murder affected quite a few people, and I enjoyed seeing them deal with their grief.  This was handled realistically without being depressing for us and was a refreshing and realistic change.

However, that was one of the things that helped slow down the plot.  Overall, I felt like the pacing should have been tighter with more investigating happening earlier in the book.  Now this isn’t to say there weren’t some twists to the story, I was surprised a time or two before we reached the logical ending.  And the climax was definitely one of the more creative ones to come along.  I loved it! 

Of course, we can’t have a mystery set in a café without a recipe, right?  In this case, there’s a recipe for buttermilk pie at the end.  I’ve never had that kind of pie, but it sure sounds delicious.

With a tighter paced plot, Well Read, Then Dead would have been a winner.  I’m hoping things improve in the sequel because I really did love the characters enough to revisit them.

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