Book Review: Who Killed Blanche DuBois? by Carole Buggé

imgresTitle: Who Killed Blanche DuBois?

Author: Carole Buggé

Genre: Mystery

Series or Standalone: Series (A Claire Rawlings Mystery)

Blurb

New York mystery editor Claire Rawlings spends her days scrutinizing the motives and methods of fictitious criminals–but her precocious thirteen-year-old friend Meredith Lawrence has a keen eye for the cold, hard facts of crime. So when Meredith comes to New York to visit, the two mystery buffs put their heads together to sleuth out the truth about a real-life murder. When Claire’s star author, the ferociously flirtatious Blanche Dubois, is found dead after eating a poisoned apple, there’s no shortage of suspects. Many who knew her were jealous of her success–and just as many were put off by her haughty, demanding demeanor. With the help of a city detective, Claire and Meredith question Blanche’s friends, colleagues, and relatives–and discover that even in the Big Apple, the world of murder is a very small world indeed.

4 STARS

Review

I received a copy of Who Killed Blanche DuBois? from the author in exchange for a fair and objective review.  I approached the book with the thought that I wouldn’t like it.  As an avid reader of the horror and thriller genres, I didn’t think the book would have enough to keep me engaged.  This book was a pleasant surprise.

From the first page, I found immersed in a world filled with authors, editors, and Blanche’s disgruntled family members.  Most of the characters presented in the book had motive to kill Blanche.  Like any good whodunit novel, the author provides us with a lot of clues, many of which turn out to be red herrings, and a cast of interesting characters.

The protagonist, Claire Rawlings, is a book editor by day, reluctantly drawn into solving Blanche’s murder by 13-year-old Meredith Lawrence, an immensely intelligent and perceptive girl who stays with Claire on a semi-permanent basis.  Also, despite having a boyfriend named Robert, Claire finds herself becoming increasingly attracted to Wallace Jackson, the disheveled police detective assigned to Blanche’s murder.

The book does not move at a breakneck pace, which I usually find off-putting, but not in this case.  The author does an excellent job at character development, especially with Claire Rawlings, Wallace Jackson, and Meredith Lawrence.  I actually grew to care about the characters, warts and all.  Toward the end of the book, I found myself genuinely wishing that two characters in the book would become romantically involved.  Also, the plot was filled with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting, and the ending was totally unexpected.

Bottom line: Who Killed Blance DuBois? is a fun read.  It’s a cozy little mystery with great plotting and character development.  I found it hard to put down, and when I did put it down, I often found that I was anxious to get back to it.

Book Review: Soundkeeper by Michael Hervey

imgresTitle: Soundkeeper

Author: Michael Hervey

Genre: Thriller

Series or Standalone: Series (Book 1 in the Hall McCormick series)

Blurb

What started out as an ordinary day for Soundkeeper Gale Pickens takes a dreadful turn when she stops a barge that is polluting the pristine waters off the coast of Charleston. Beaten and left for dead, one of the polluters kidnaps her and she cannot bear to think about her captor’s intentions.

Hall McCormick, a reluctant Refuge Enforcement Officer, is learning the ropes in his new job, which he hopes is only temporary while he waits for the marine biologist job he really wants. He is sad that the beautiful young environmentalist he dated briefly has mysteriously disappeared. While pursuing poachers and keeping the shoreline safe for all animals, he finds kills of marine life, due to someone dumping toxic chemicals into Port Royal Sound.

After Gale’s boat is found deserted and drifting to sea, will anyone keep searching for her? Will the criminal polluters be caught in time to save Gale’s life? Will Hall learn to appreciate his job as much as being a scientist? As he races against time, Hall needs to find Gale’s would-be killer before it’s too late.

3.5 STARS

Review

Soundkeeper is a nicely-paced thriller told mostly from the viewpoint of Hall McCormick, a rookie South Carolina Refuge Enforcement Officer.  This a refreshing change from the standard cop yarns.  We get to see the South Carolina coastline from Hall’s perspective – the fish and animals, the plants and trees, and sadly, the crimes against nature that are all too real – poaching and the dumping of toxic chemicals.

Hall is a likeable enough guy, though we don’t really get a good look at what really makes him tick.  He struggles with being a rookie South Carolina Refuge Enforcement Officer, and with not being able to do what he trained for in college, marine biology, but there really isn’t much else we are given from a character development standpoint.  He seems emotionally flat and disconnected.  As an example, when Hall thinks that Gale has died, he seems utterly devoid of emotion.  Granted, he and Gale only dated briefly, but I expected more in the way of grief and anger.  At the beginning of the book, he finds an abandoned puppy and gives it a home. I guess that I expected the puppy to play an active role in the book, but he didn’t.  Hall feeds him and lets him outside, but that’s about it.

From a character development standpoint, I think that we get a better of one of the secondary characters, Gale Pickens, as she struggles to stay alive while the captive of a career criminal.  We get a good look at her inner strength and fortitude as she continually wonders what her captor has in store for her.  She maintains a positive attitude, and continually plots her escape, refusing to resign herself to a horrible fate.

Since this is the first book in a series, perhaps the author plans on further developing the characters in later books.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Bottom line: This was a pretty good book that could have benefitted from some additional character development of the protagonist, Hall McCormick.