Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Dark and Stormy Murder

Another scorcher today in Florida.  We reached 108 degrees today. I do not know what people did before air conditioning (probably sitting very still with their feet in ice water)!  Lil' Dickens (my kitten) is feeling feisty and frisky this week.  She has taken to sneak attacks.  She darts out, attacks your legs, and then takes off.  It is so funny.  Dickens especially loves attacking my mother because she wears long pants (pj's and jeans) all the time.  Dickens can climb up them quickly and then jump off.  She is also getting a kick out of jingle balls (little balls with bells in them).  I have to keep digging them out from under the furniture for her.  Animals certainly keep us entertained!  Laughter is good for the soul.

A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley is the first book in A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery series.  Lena London has finished graduate school and is looking for a job when she receives a call from her friend, Allison.  Allison has the perfect job for Lena.  Allison happens to be in a knitting group with Lena’s favorite writer, Camilla Graham.  Camilla is looking for a ghost writer (of sorts).  Camilla is a writer of romantic suspense and Lena has been a fan since she was a teenager.  Camilla needs someone to brainstorm with her, do research, and do some writing.  Lena is the perfect candidate.  She did her graduate thesis on Camilla and her work.  After a phone interview, Lena is hired.  She will get to live in Graham House with Camilla.  Lena arrives and quickly settles in.  She is looking out a window and notices someone on the beach—and they are not moving.  Camilla and Lena go to check and find Martin Jonas dead.  Martin was a waiter at Wheatgrass, a restaurant owned by Adam Rayburn (who visits Camilla regularly).  This is just the first incident.  It seems that someone is coming onto the property at night.  If it was not for Camilla’s dogs, they would never know.  However, whenever they investigate the person (or persons) have disappeared.  What is going on?  Then Lena hears about a “secret” regarding Graham House.  Does the house have a secret?  Then there is the matter of Sam West.  Sam is Camilla’s closest neighbor.  He came to Blue Lake, Indiana to get away from the press and rumors in New York.  A year ago Sam’s wife disappeared.  Sam was accused of the crime, but there is no proof (and no body).  Now people are accusing Sam of Martin’s death.  Lena does not believe that Sam is guilty and is quite vocal on the matter.  Then blood is found in Sam’s New York apartment and it belongs to his wife, Victoria (and Sam was in New York recently).  Lena wants to find a way to prove Sam innocent.  Looks like life is not so quiet in Blue Lake as Allison indicated.  Join Lena as she sets out to get answers.

A Dark and Stormy Murder was not bad for a first book in a new series.  The book is easy to read, but had some slow parts (especially when Lena got off on her thinking tangents).  The murder occurred too early in the book which made the novel seem really long (thought it was not).  There was one thing that I found just odd.  I did not understand Lena defending Sam so vehemently.  She had just met the man, but she was absolutely convinced of his innocence.   How can you be certain a man is innocent if you just met him (and know nothing about him)?  I give A Dark and Stormy Murder 3.5 out of 5 stars.  There was some repetition of information (an example is Camilla’s books and how much Lena enjoyed them).  I enjoyed the two mysteries especially the one regarding the murder of Martin Jonas.  They were interesting (if I say more it would be a spoiler) and complicated (especially the Sam West case).  Unfortunately, only one case gets wrapped up in A Dark and Stormy Murder.  We will have to wait for the next book to see what happens regarding Sam West and his missing wife.  A Writer’s Apprentice Mystery series has potential.  I think with more character development and a little tweaking it can be a good series to enjoy.  I will be reading the next book.

Other novels by Julia Buckley are The Big Chili and Cheddar Off Dead (from an Undercover Dish Mystery series).  You can follow Julia Buckley on Amazon.  I received a complimentary copy of A Dark and Stormy Murder from NetGalley (and the publisher) in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book.

I want to thank all of you for your support.  I really do appreciate you taking time to read my reviews.  I will be back with another review soon (Marriage, Monsters-in-Laws, and Murder by Sara Rosett).  Stay cool, take care, and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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