Sunday, May 17, 2020

Book Review: Sunrise at the Mayan Temple by Sigmund Brouwer (Accidental Detectives #14)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, exciting second half, humor
Cons: Slow to start, short story colors the book too much
The Bottom Line:
Exciting trip south
Slow start, weaker mystery
Not as good as rest

Slow Start, Fast Paced Second Half

As much as I love the rest of the Accidental Detectives series, I have never warmed up to Sunrise at the Mayan Temple despite reading it several times.  On this reread, I think I was finally able to put my finger on just way this one isn’t as good as the rest of the series.

Ricky Kidd is surprised when his younger brother, Joel, is given six tickets to spend 10 days down in Mexico.  He’s even more surprised when his parents agree to send the two of them plus his friend Mike, Ralphy, and Lisa, along with Old Lady Bugsby as their chaperon, down there.  When the group arrives, they learn they are there to be part of a dig at Chichen Itza.  It sounds great, but Ricky soon begins to get new worries.  Like why is everyone afraid of the leader of their dig?  Are the rumors of an ancient legend come back to life true?  Or is something more sinister happening?

These characters originally began life in a series of short stories author Sigmund Brouwer wrote.  Once I realized that, I began to see how the early events of each book incorporated a short story.  In this case, the short story was one that he was particularly proud of since it won an award.  Part of my issue is this short story, which is a bit of a downer.  Even more so, I feel the book overall is twisted to make this story work. In order to tie it into the story, Ricky has to let things go that he normally wouldn’t in his pursuit of justice.  That just doesn’t sit well with me even after rereading the book a few times.

Then there’s the mystery itself.  We get a very slow start to it due to a travelogue as the characters head down to Mexico.  Once it does begin, it proves to be extremely gripping.  However, in the rush to tell the story, much of it is resolved in a data dump.  Ricky has some of his usual brilliant deductions, but they only resolve a small part of the case, not the majority of the story like normal.  I love this series because of his deductions, so that is a disappointment.

Fortunately, the characters carry this book.  They are at their best here.  There are some very funny moments, including a running gag I just loved.  It’s always a pleasure to spend time with them, and I enjoyed getting to do that once again.

Sunrise at the Mayan Temple is more of a mixed bag than usual for the series, but it is the only off book.  I definitely recommend this series, but only after you’ve met the characters should you consider reading this one.

Enjoy Ricky’s other cases with the rest of the Accidental Detectives books.

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