Friday, March 16, 2018

Dead Calm: A Mattie Winston Mystery

Greetings!  The Promise by Susan Lantz Simpson will be published on March 27 along with Death by Dumpling by Vivien ChenAnnelise Ryan is a pseudonym for Beth Amos who also writes A Mack's Bar Mystery series (using pen name Allyson K. Abbott).  

Dead Calm by Annelise Ryan is the ninth installment in A Mattie Winston Mystery series.  Mattie Winston, medicolegal death investigator for the medical examiner’s office, and her husband, Detective Steve Hurley are called out during the night to a crime scene at the Grizzly Motel.  At first glance, it looks like a murder-suicide scenario with Craig Knowlton killing Meredith Lansing.  But upon further examination, it is evident that the scene was staged.  Now Steve and Mattie have a double murder on their hands. The more they dig, the more complex the case.   At the site of Steve and Mattie’s new home, the builders dig up a set of unusual remains.  The bones are deformed which causes speculation that the remains are those of an alien (media sensation). Steve is still digging into the Prince case which relates back to Mattie’s father.  They are still missing some key details.  Will Mattie’s father fill in the gaps?  This pair have their hands full with three investigations, a teenager and a toddler to take care of, and the construction of their new home on hold.  Then another victim turns up.  It does not help that the medical examiner’s office is understaffed, and the only potential candidate has a malodourous medical condition.  How will it all turn out?  You will have to read Dead Calm to find out!

Dead Calm reminds me of the Energizer bunny—the story just keeps going and going at a fast clip.   Dead Calm has three mysteries with varying levels of complexity.  There is one odd, one simple, and the final one is convoluted.  The main mystery can be solved before you are a quarter of the way through the story.  The Prince case is more complex, and it started in a previous book in this series.  It is a mystery that plays out since readers are not given all the facts necessary to solve it.  This case dominates the book, and we are vast amounts of information relating to it (information overload).  The odd case involving the deformed skeleton is interesting and provides some humorous moments (since people believe the skeleton belongs to an alien).  I felt that the author crammed too much into this one book.  Dead Calm is not a standalone book.  While many details about the characters and cases from previous books is included (goes on for many pages), new readers will be lost.  The characters are realistic and well-developed.  The ending was anticlimactic regarding the Prince case, but the solution was clever.  The crimes are counterbalanced with humor that will have many people laughing hilariously.  There are a couple of items in the book that I could have done without.  One of them being Matthew, Mattie’s young son, peeing on her leg.  While I am sure most people will find it humorous and realistic, I did not feel it needed to be included (makes me glad I had a daughter). There is some repetition of information in Dead Calm.  It makes me wonder if authors think readers forget the facts as we progress through the book. I am giving Dead Calm 4 out of 5 stars.  There is a preview of Last Call (the next book in A Mack’s Bar Mystery series) at the end (both series written by same author).

I appreciate you reading my latest book review.  Tomorrow I will share my thoughts on Dipped to Death by Kelly Lane.  I hope that you have a delightful day.  Make sure you carve out time for yourself.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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