Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review: Bluffing is Murder by Tace Baker (Lauren Rousseau #2)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great and interesting main character
Cons: Mystery could have been stronger
The Bottom Line:
Body while running
Thrusts Lauren into danger
Good second entry

A Good Book – And That’s No Bluff

Just after I bought the first Lauren Rousseau mystery, the author of the series contacted me about reviewing Bluffing is Murder.  I never turn down a book I was planning to buy anyway, so naturally, I said yes.  The good part of that is that I already got to enjoy the book.  The bad part is, I have to wait that much longer for the next story.

Summer break has finally started at her college, and Lauren Rousseau can’t wait to have a more relaxed schedule.  Yes, she has some papers to write, but she has no classes to teach for the first time in years.  And after the events of the spring and messing with a killer, Lauren needs a break.

And then she goes for a run on the beach and finds the dead body of Charles Heard, a member of the Trustees for a land trust in town.  Unfortunately, Lauren had argued with Charles in front of the police chief just the day before, so she finds herself a suspect.  Desperate to clear her name, she starts investigating.  Is the controversy over the trust to blame?  Or is there another motive for the murder?

Before I go too much further, I should point out that the book (but not my review) contains a minor spoiler for the first in the series.  It’s mentioned in passing and doesn’t reveal the killer, but it is there.  Just keep that in mind when you decide what order to read the series.

I’ve read these two books in back to back months, something I rarely do.  Usually, I let more time pass between books in a series.  In this case, it really worked out well for me because it allowed me to better appreciate the character growth in Lauren and the rest of the main characters.  They have definitely grown as a result of some of what happens in the first book, and I appreciate that.  Lauren is still having issues with her boyfriend, and I’m looking forward to see how that relationship develops in future books.  All this means the characters are strong and complex, and I enjoyed spending time with them.  Even the new characters brought in for this book were well developed and made me care about them.

Unfortunately, the plot wasn’t as strong as it could be.  The pacing was pretty good, and I always felt like things were moving forward.  However, I did figure things out earlier than I would have liked.  Still, I kept turning pages to see if I was correct.  And the climax was certainly suspenseful.

This is not a book to rush through.  The writing invites you to come get lost in Lauren's world.  Overall, the tone isn't as light as most of what I read, but that seriousness also gives the book a bit more depth.

In addition to being a linguistics professor, Lauren is also a Quaker.  I must admit, I know little about this religion, so I found that part of the story very interesting.  There is no preaching (which the Quakers wouldn’t like anyway) or anything else that would turn off potential readers.  It is part of Lauren’s character and something that makes her even more interesting as a lead.

This complex lead character makes Bluffing is Murder well worth reading.  I will definitely be back for Lauren’s next case.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
SECOND NOTE: Tace Baker is the pen name of Edith Maxwell and not related to me.

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