Friday, December 31, 2010

Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge 2010 Wrap Up, and Reviews

I'm slipping in just under the wire, to post my last two reviews, and wrap up for the 2010 Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge, at Book Chick City.

I read these two a while back, but just hadn't gotten around to posting about them. But, since this is the last day of the challenge, and I hate to leave a challenge unfinished, I thought I better get to it.

Just to review, the challenge was to read 12 thriller or suspense type novels, in 12 months. Below is a list of my first 10 titles. I stuck to the cozy mysteries, which were included in the list of acceptable genres, but I noticed most of the other participants tended toward horror based thrillers, with an occasional Agatha Christie thrown in.

1. Eggs Benedict Arnold by Laura Childs
2. The English Breakfast Murder by Laura Childs
3.Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
4. Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle
5.Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
6.The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs
7. Needled to Death by Maggie Sefton
8. A Deadly Yarn by Maggie Sefton
9. Hooked on Murder by Betty Hechtman
10. Dead Men Don't Crochet by Betty Hechtman

And as for number 11, and 12:

11. Recipe For Murder

Series: Cozy Crumb Mystery
Author: Lisa Harris
Pages: 265 in the large print edition. I have good eyesight, but this was the copy my library had in.
Setting: A hunting lodge outside of Rendezvous, CO.
Recipes included: Lemon Crumb Cake, with a Lemon Curd Frosting
Summary and Review:

After objecting to some of the moral content, or lack of moral content, of some of my other entries in the challenge, I thought I'd try something different, and check out a "Christian cozy mystery". Generally, I avoid "Christian" fiction, because it tends to be sappy, and preachy, and even awkward, or forced. But, since this is a mystery, I figured how bad could it be?

Widow Pricilla Crumb comes semi out of retirement to help her son out, by filling in as cook, at his Colorado hunting lodge. She has hopes that it might become a full time position for her, giving her something to do in her old age, and allowing her more time with her son. And, on this particular weekend, she has some match making plans for son, as well, with the arrival of a dear family friend, and his grown, and single, daughter.

Everything is planned to perfection, and going according to plan, until one of the guests drops dead...

The plot is a little thin, and even the characters don't seem to think it's realistic. I lost count of the number of times they mention Jessica Fletcher, or Sherlock Homes, and how silly it is to be acting like them. And the ending - the ending is cliche to the point of being embarrassing.

But, the characters are likeable, the setting is pleasant, and the writing, while not challenging, is for the most part, light, enjoyable, and clean.

So, while I'm not completely sold on series, I'm not set against it either. If I was the star giving type, I think this one would rate somewhere around three out of five.

12. Candy Apple Dead
Series: Candy Shop Mystery
Author: Sammi Carter
Pages: 232
Setting: Paradise, CO.
Recipes included: Almond Toffee, Cream Cheese Mints, Caramel Dipped Apples, and Hard Rocky Mountain Candy.
Summary and Review:

Abby Shaw has returned to her small hometown to take over her late aunt's candy store, after a messy divorce from a cheating husband. Flirtation, begins to turn to romance with a fellow merchant down the street, when he is found murdered, and her brother becomes suspect number one.

While this mystery is definitely not a "Christian" mystery, killing off the love interest in the first few pages, kept it pretty clean. It also provided for a fun deviation from the normal cozy mystery formula. With her brother's reputation, and freedom at risk, Abby becomes a credible, if not qualified, investigator. And, along the way she rubs shoulders with enough background characters, and stumbles across a large enough web of mysteries, to keep the series going for a while.

I'm not sure where Carter takes the story later in the series, but this book was okay. Not too spicy, but not sickeningly sweet either. I'd probably give it 4 out of 5 stars, keeping in mind that cozy mysteries are not meant to be deep, or educational reading.

So, there you have it, 12 months, 12 mysteries, and the challenge is complete.
It's great to be a homeschooler.


Annette W. said...

I love recommendations for new authors...esp clean suspense/mystery. Which of the authors do you highly recommend?

If you do the challenge next year, one of my favorite clean (just a few curse words throughout...never more of anything else) series is The Cat Lilian Jackson Braun.

I would guarantee your library has some!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Annette - Laura Childs is my favorite of the the above authors, especially her Tea Shop Mysteries. Her books are more developed, and have a good sense of place, and are pretty clean.

Debbie said...

Good for you. I thought about doing this challenge, then stopped myself and had a little mental talk that I do not like mysteries. I guess you can see I realized I would never make it through the challenge!

Ticia said...

I've loved reading the Laura Childs books after your recommendation. Only thing I noticed is the scrapbooking one is not as good, in my opinion.