I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing Saturday. Slay Bells Ring by Karen Rose Smith will be published on October 31. It is the seventh book in A Caprice Deluca Mystery series. Anna Lee Huber is the author of A Lady Darby Mystery series and now A Verity Kent Mystery series.
This Side of Murder by Anna Lee Huber is the first book in A Verity Kent Mystery series. Verity is a widow who has been invited to the engagement party of Walter Ponsonby and Helen Crawford. Verity's husband, Sidney was comrades with Walter. Verity was not going to attend the weekend event, but then she received a suspicious note regarding Sidney. Along the way Verity meets Max Westfield, Earl of Ryde who also served with Sidney. Right away Verity can tell there is tension among the men at the party. The group finds themselves stranded on Umbersea Island with the men getting picked off one by one. Why is someone targeting these ex-soldiers? Verity with Max's assistance sets out to get answers, but she is in for a big surprise.
This Side of Murder has a slow pace (glacial) that makes the story seem twice as long (the author tends to be elaborate on tiny details). The same details are rehashed throughout the book. Too much time is devoted to Verity contemplating the case (analyzing, thinking) and talking about it with others. There is little actual investigation. The pace picks up in the last 12% of the book. Verity was lackluster. She misses her husband (understandably), but she is flirting with Max at the party. I did tire of the many mentions of Sidney. She had potential to be dynamic (charismatic), but it was not realized (had potential to be similar to Miss Phryne Fisher). The mystery was slightly complicated, but the culprits were not hard to discern. The “twist” was expected. I am giving This Side of Murder 3 out of 5 stars. Ms. Huber did a great job at capturing the time period as well as what people were thinking and feeling after the war. People had a hard time after World War I, dealing with the loss of life (loneliness) and women were finding themselves at a loss after all the action (work). Women were allowed to take on new roles during the war and men expected them to go back to them (home, cooking, cleaning, having children) after the war. The descriptions about ciphers (prevalent throughout the book), though, will have some readers screaming with frustration and boredom (it was interesting, but tedious at the same time). I hope Ms. Huber will up her game in the next A Verity Kent Mystery.
I appreciate you stopping by today. I will be featuring A Plain Leaving by Leslie Gould on Sunday. It is the first book in The Sisters of Lancaster County series. Take care and Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader