Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan (2012)

April 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm (cozy mystery, negativity)

This cozy mystery brings us to Cumberland County, Virginia.  (Apparently by reading a lot of these things, I’ll be able to vicariously visit the whole country.) And it’s also one of two series I’m aware of that have scrapbooking as the, hmm, creative focus of the characters.

There’s a lot to like about this book, such as: characters ranging in age from youngish moms to outright elderly; a Jewish point-of-view character who actually struggles with issues related to being Jewish in exurban Virginia; acknowledgment of racial issues (at least in the past); generally matter-of-fact dealings with issues of sex and sexuality and infidelity.  And I’m okay with the slight supernatural element (ghosts).

Unfortunately, it has no narrative tension.  The story meanders through multiple points of view, which is generally interesting but does little to advance the plot.  I think the author’s goal was to explore the repercussions of the victim’s murder and of her activities prior to her death.  Laudable, certainly, but the result is a series of incidents that connect poorly to each other and don’t create much of a feeling of progress toward the goal of solving the mystery.  This may be like reality, but reality doesn’t make a good narrative.

Also, I was really annoyed by certain characters’ decision to go off and confront the probable murderer.  They’re both smarter than that … and then the whole confrontation fizzled rather than exploding.

The bones of a good story are here; it just needed to be executed better.  I may give the forthcoming second volume of the series a chance, but I’m not sure.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: