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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Books Can Be Deceiving by Jenn McKinlay

Books Can Be Deceiving is (yet another) cozy I picked up over the holidays. This one is set in a library, and is written by Jenn McKinlay who also writes the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series.

Lindsay Norris is recently single and recently relocated to the coastal town of Briar Creek where she has been hired to run the local library. As if juggling schedules (and egos) at the library wasn't enough, Lindsay's friend Beth has a problem. Beth has been working on ideas for a children's book for years, and she thinks she's finally ready to share her work. Her boyfriend Rick, a very successful children's author himself, thinks it's a very bad idea- so bad that when Beth insists that it's time to show her work to a publisher, Rick dumps her. When Rick is found dead the next day, the police are sure Beth is guilty and Lindsay knows she's going to have to do some sleuthing to protect her best friend.

Characters: A McKinlay does a great job of offering simple but realistic characters to inhabit her cozy mystery world. Lindsay is likeable, smart and independent. Lindsay's friends are quirky without ever being over-the-top. The library has a staff member who disapproves of everything new and everyone young (we've all worked with that person somewhere in our lives!) and still, she becomes a real and sympathetic character as the story concludes. Of course the bad guys are a little hand-wringingly wicked and the New York City publisher is a big stereotypical snob, but their characters manage to be entertaining rather than annoying. Most importantly, Lindsay, Beth and Lindsay's love interest make a charming trio of main characters.

Plot: B+ I'd love to give the plot an A, since I was so involved in the storyline that I read the entire thing in one sitting, but there are some conceits to over used plots (Sorry, but I can't say more without spoilers) that were a bit stale. Still, it's been said that there are no new ideas, and I often think one of the marks of a really good author is that they make you forget you've read a particular plot device a thousand times.

Romance: A It's sweet, it's understated and he's a complete hunk. There are no uncomfortably descriptive scenes and in a break from many of the books I've read in this genre the main character doesn't spend half the book in a tortured internal dialogue over whether or not all men are un-dateable scum.

Accuracy: A- Overall, I know little to nothing about costal living (there's a sweet subplot about a lost love at sea and a lot of moving from island to mainland in the main plot) and I don't know a ton about Library work, but both areas of the book rang true from my limited perspective. The only misses, in my opinion, were in the  book publishing issues (again, without giving away plot I can't be more specific) where I think some liberty was taken to make Rick a man clearly deserving of a bad end. I really wish I could explain this fully, so if you read the book email me and we can chat about it!

As always, thanks for reading. I just received the latest story collection from Lawrence Connolly in the mail, this one a collection of horror. I hope to post a review some time in the next week so stay tuned!

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