A Carter Thompson Mystery by Amanda Ball
Review: Historical novelist Carter Thompson travels to Kansas to celebrate her great aunt's 80th birthday with the rest of her extended family, but find herself part of a murder investigation when Aunt Edna is murdered in Forever 11:59, the first mystery in this series by Amanda Ball.
Edna Andrews has lived in the small, rural town of Autumn, population 950, for all her life, where she and her late husband raised three children, a four having died as a child. Content to simply mind her garden, she was looking forward to seeing many of her family members as they gathered in Autumn for her birthday. Carter has arrived a few days early to help organize the festivities, which seem to come off without a problem … until the morning after when Edna is found shot to death. Nothing seems to be missing from the house, so robbery isn't considered a motive. Indeed, even after interviewing everyone who attended the party can find nothing to indicate that someone had a problem with Edna, especially one that may have prompted someone to kill her.
The premise for this series is a good one, a writer who travels around the country in her small RV doing research for her books, with the ability to pick up and move on at a moment's notice. Carter's RV is the reason she didn't hear the shot that killed Edna; she was sleeping in her mobile home, which was parked a little ways from the house. As a mystery, however, Forever 11:59 is a little weak. The narrative has a laid back, folksy tone to it, as if Carter is having a conversation with the reader. The family dynamics are nicely laid out, with just the right amount of intrafamilial conflict presented, some of it possibly strong enough for a motive … if one knows where to look. And while there's always a need to lay a proper foundation for a murder mystery, this one takes nearly the first half of the book to do so; the one and only murder takes place at just about the midway point. Too, a few shortcuts are taken plot-wise in the aftermath; for example, the police are unable to find the bullet when they investigate the house, though the room in which Edna is found isn't all that big and the bullet couldn't have magically disappeared. Later, Carter finds it and makes a conclusive leap that solves the case, but one that hardly seems supported by the facts as they've been presented.
A stronger mystery with more creative sleuthing on the part of Carter would have made for a much better book overall. Still, Forever 11:59 is an agreeable introduction to this rather engaging amateur sleuth.
Acknowledgment: the author provided a copy of Forever 11:59 for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Forever 11:59: Kansas
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Forever 11:59 by Amanda Ball — A Carter Thompson Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: February 2012
List Price: $12.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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