I was attracted to this book by the blurb and thought it would be something I would really enjoy as I am a big fan of cozy mysteries. When I started this one, I immediately felt lost as the story dumped the reader in the midst of a lot of characters (mostly unlikable) and a scene that was hard to get acclimated in. It seems this book is part of a series and I certainly hope the readers of the initial book were oriented as to time and place and people in a better way than this book did. It was as if the reader was expected to have read the prior book and be familiar with all the characters and the setting.
I read three chapters confused and stopped reading for another week or so before picking it up again.
On the second try, things became a bit clearer but I still didn’t like any of the characters. The group of friends of the protagonist called the Yentas were rude and condescending and the woman I expected to be the murder victim was nasty as well. No one really seemed to be someone this reader could root for or even care about.
By the time I got to chapter seven, I was about to set it aside as one I wouldn’t finish.
I pressed on, hoping it would improve and it did somewhat. It still had issues I couldn’t quite get past but the story did start to make sense and I did enjoy the premise of the tale.
Some things that bothered me that stopped my total enjoyment of the story: (1) The author used a phrase that was something on the lines of, “I twirled my hands in a ta-da motion” or “I turned my hands in a ta-da motion.” I’d never seen such a phrase and it was used more than once in the book. There was quite a lot of twirling of hands and fingers throughout the book. (2) The author also used the phrase, “Gave me the big eyes” which threw me out of the story each time it was used. (3) “Gave me the stink eye” was also overused. I think the story would have been better with some judicious editing out of some of these odd, repetitive phrases. One or two occurrences in a novel is one thing, but over and over was too much. (4) One other glaring thing was using words wrong—such as in one place, the protagonist said her “curiosity peaked” which should have been piqued. I blame this on her editor. I get that sometimes the wrong words get into books, but this should have been caught.
The main character’s way of questioning people she suspected of the crime was rude and she sometimes (a lot, actually) behaved in a stupid and reckless manner. She actively put herself in danger and alienated people. If I’d been on the other end of her questioning, I would have wasted no time telling her to go away, but these people answered her questions like she had some authority to ask them. Her style of confrontation was off-putting and I wondered many times why the other characters put up with it when they didn’t have to talk to her at all.
Overall, even though I sound like I hated this book, the premise was good and the whodunit had a lot of characters to choose from which was a plus. I think it could have used a lot more editorial work. I’m not sure how the protagonist and her friends could be made more likable for this reader but I know a lot of readers enjoy this type of protagonist—irreverent, snarky, and sometimes over the top. For someone who likes that type character, this book is perfect. It just wasn’t for me. 3.5 stars