Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great mystery and atmosphere
Cons: Pacing a little uneven, took a bit to get into the story initially
The Bottom Line:
Rich woman murdered
A gorgeous and fun setting
Debut worth reading
Murder of the Rich and Famous
I might have passed on Better Homes and Corpses if it weren’t for the TV show Royal Pains. Like Royal Pains, this book is set in the Hamptons, and I’ve become very fascinated with that location in New York. While this is a debut, it is easy to see that author Kathleen Bridge is a very talented author.
Meg Barrett has moved out to the Hamptons in an attempt to reset her life. She’s starting her own interior design business, using her knowledge as a former editor at a home and garden magazine to provide her clients with beautiful homes. She is thrilled when she is asked to assess the antiques in the home of Caroline Spenser, one of the biggest names in the Hamptons. It helps that Meg was college roommates with Caroline’s daughter Jillian, but this could be a huge boost to her business.
Unfortunately, Meg is running a little late the morning of the appointment, and when she arrives, she finds Jillian on the floor next to the dead body of her mother. Jillian has no memory of what happened, and Meg takes on the job of cataloging the assets of the estate for insurances purposes partially to keep an eye on Jillian in case the killer decides to come back and attack her. Will Jillian be the next victim? Or can Meg figure out what happened first?
Now, I must confess that I am actually not a fan of antiques or interior design - that whole male thing coming into play again, I guess. So if it were just that hook alone, I might have never picked this book up in the first place. I found that the book spent a little too much time for my taste talking about antiques and design, but that just might be my lack of interest in it.
However, the mystery was very well done. It had quite a few good twists and kept me guessing until the end. In fact, I was amazed at how the author was able to pull the plot off. Overall, the book has a very gothic feel, and that atmosphere set the story apart from many books I read.
I did find I had a bit of trouble getting into the book at first, like the writing style was keeping me slightly at bay. But I quickly got used to it and soon found myself getting completely caught up in the story.
Much of that is thanks to the characters. As the book progresses, we get to know them better, and I started to really care about the outcome.
As you might expect, the back of the book includes some tips for repurposing vintage finds, something Meg does over the course of the book. However, you might be surprised to find that there are recipes for a delicious sounding meal, provided by Meg’s father, who is a gourmet cook.
While there is some room for improvement, overall this is a good debut that shows a lot of promise. Based on Better Homes and Corpses, I think Kathleen Bridge has a bright future as a mystery writer.
NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in the hopes that I would review it.