Friday, October 17, 2014

Book Review: The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan (League of Literary Ladies #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and a strong mystery mixed with humor
Cons: Needed a final edit for continuity issues
The Bottom Line:
Halloween cozy
Mysteries, great characters
Lacking good edit

Sleepy Editing Detracted From What Could Have Been a Great Book

I have truly fallen in love with the League of Literary Ladies.  This is my third time visiting them on South Bass Island this year, and I just love seeing how their current literary reads gives clues to modern mysteries.  Just in time for Halloween, we get the latest in the series, The Legend of Sleepy Harlow.  I loved it despite some serious editing flaws.

October is descending on Put-In-Bay, the main town on the island, and as the residents begin to get ready for the winter season, Bea has one last big group, the Elkhart Ghost Getters.  They are hot on the trail of the ghost of Charles “Sleepy” Harlow, an infamous local gangster who was murdered in 1930 but made his living before that running alcohol into the area from Canada during Prohibition.

However, what Bea didn’t realize is that the members of EGG had been on the island the previous October.  On that first trip, they had made some enemies, including Bea’s friend Kate.  The tension is even worse this time around, and after a flair up with Kate, one of the members of the group is found murdered.  With Kate an obvious suspect, Bea begins to question her guests to find out who the killer might really be.  Can she do it?  And is Sleepy really revisiting the island as a ghost?

Like the first two in the series, this book is fast paced and fun.  The plot weaves all over the place and threw many clues at me that just confused me until everything came together at the end.  There were even a nice couple of creepy ghost scenes that weren’t really that scary but were definitely fun and added to the plot.  The allusions to The Legend of Sleepy Hallow weren’t as strong as some of the comparisons in the first two books, but that was a minor point.

I also liked the characters.  The main women have been strong since day one, and that continues here.  This is more Bea’s show than in previous books (even though she’s always been the main character), but those scenes with all of the women are some of the best, and we really get to see a progression in them and their friendships.  The suspects are equally as strong, and that also helped confuse me on who did it until the end.

Plus these books always have a nice sense of humor.  Between some fun events and Bea’s comments in the first person narration, I got some grins and laughs from the book.

So what is my complaint?  There were times when this book felt like a draft that needed a final edit.  Early in the book, an upcoming event is mentioned and the prep for it plays an important part in an early scene.  Then it is never mentioned again, even in passing.  I would think we’d at least get an acknowledgement that is happened without incident.  Near the climax of the book, I think we experienced two October 30ths in a row, although I’m not completely certain on that.  Bea at one point mentions some guests she has coming to stay at her bed and breakfast in a week, but they never show up and no explanation is ever made.  All of these would be annoyances, but I would chalk them up to me missing something in the passage of time.  However, I know that in the final 100 pages, the location where the body was found is changed.  It is mentioned multiple times by multiple characters that Bea found the body in one location, when it was really in another.  That’s a very big detail for the characters to get wrong.  That’s what makes me think that an earlier version of the story didn’t get fully edited to include the changes in the later drafts.

Fortunately, all those editing errors have no real change on the outcome of the mystery, so while they annoy, they are not a fatal issue with the book.

Still, it saddens me because The Legend of Sleepy Harlow could have been another outstanding addition to the fun series.  I still definitely enjoyed it, but I hope the attention to detail is better in any future books.

This book is strong enough you'll want to read the rest of the League of Literary Ladies books in order.

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