Paperback, 267 pages
Expected publication: September 24th 2012 by Harrison Thurman
I liked the premise of this one, a town founded on the charitable principles of author, Charles Dickens. All the businesses around Dickens Junction, Oregon, are named after Dickens characters and the major events in town are based upon Dickens books. So, just before the Christmas Carol tableaux is held, a recent arrival in town is found murdered followed by another murder but this time of a local townsperson and then one more murder occurs. Yikes! Enough already!
What could possibly be the motive? The only thing the reader knows is that the first victim is an employee of Marley Enterprises and that he has been trying to tempt local businesses into selling their property for huge sums of money. Is the reader to surmise being paid more than a property is worth could possibly incite murderous instincts? It seems so because no other motives were apparent. No hints of any kind were presented and no credible suspects were visible. Never mind the reason and ridiculous manner of death for the second victim.
Hmmmm . .....
As a cozy aficionado, this is not acceptable. I prefer the author to play fair with the reader and offer up several motives and or suspects and then develop the plot from there. In the final Agatha Christie-like denouement, the main character, local bookstore owner, Simon, gathers the town inhabitants and unmasks the murderer after his own investigation. No one could possibly have guessed who this was nor did the author present any hints as to the reason why this happened until the finale. Not, so not a fan of the killer coming out of left field with motives not even previously hinted at!
The plot thread of objectivism and repeated references to Ayn Rand's philosophy as opposed to Dickens's philosophy left me feeling that the author was trying to be too clever for his own good. In my humble opinion, the author's time would have been better spent with developing more of the mystery plot with less emphasis on gay romance and contrasting beliefs.
Sorry, but this one earns a solid 2* from me.
Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by MindBuck Media in exchange for my honest opinion.