Arsenic with Austen
Review: After Emily Cavanaugh unexpectedly inherits her great aunt's estate, which includes a large home known locally as Windy Corner with an extensive library of books that she treasured as a child, and a substantial number of business properties in the seaside town of Stony Beach, Oregon, she increasingly finds herself the target of a pro-development group who seem to be willing to do anything to get their hands on her legacy, leading her to suspect that maybe her great aunt didn't die of natural causes, in Arsenic with Austen, the first mystery in this series by Katherine Bolger Hyde.
Emily had been living in Portland and had spent little time in Stoney Beach. So it came as a surprise to her that the local sheriff is Luke Richards, her high school sweetheart. As teenagers, they had planned a life together but then life got in the way, and they drifted apart. But for Emily, there had always been the "What if?" question that had gone unanswered. Now, it seems, she may be able to answer it. Luke seems to be as attracted to her and she is to him, and the spark of romance that they felt so many years earlier seems about to be rekindled. But she doesn't want to start anything while she feels her life may be in danger, and indeed it very well may be …
Arsenic with Austen is a pleasant mystery, but there really isn't anything here to set it apart from dozens of others competing for a reader's attention. The mystery storyline itself is rather weak, partly due to the clear line drawn between the "good guys" and the "bad guys". And there aren't that many "bad guys" so the whodunit and whydunit is fairly obvious from early on. The romance between Emily and Luke is kind of sweet, though, but for a mystery takes up far too much page time. Finally, the Jane Austen theme seems forced and not a structural part of the story. To be sure, there are elements to be found here and there, but for a series that intends to be based, at least in part, on classic novels, there needs to be a better integration of the classic with the contemporary to draw readers in.
Acknowledgment: Minotaur Books provided a copy of Arsenic with Austen for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Arsenic with Austen: Oregon
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Arsenic with Austen by Katherine Bolger Hyde — A Crime with the Classics Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: July 2016
List Price: $24.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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