Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Drizzled With Death

Author:  Jessie Crockett
Genre:  Mystery

2 Stars
Dani Greene is a fourth-generation maple syrup maker.  She is 27, the unmarried baby of the family, and lives with them in Sugar Grove, New Hampshire.  There is an annual pre-Thanksgiving pancake-eating contest (a big draw), which her grandfather, Emerald, always wins.  However, this year there is something new added:  an outsider, Alanza Speedwell, joins the contest, and when it is down to just Grandpa and her, she drops dead while still eating.
Dani's ex-boyfriend, Mitch Reynolds, is a police officer, and he suspects her or one of her family of doing the woman in.  Dani knows she needs to find the real killer before someone in her family winds up in jail.
Okay, I really wanted to like this book for two reasons:  Jessie Crockett and the fact that it takes place at Thanksgiving (because I love reading the season, as it were).  Unfortunately, I don't think it's very good.  In fact, I struggled to keep up with the story.
Which isn't to say that it's not a good story line; it is one that is tried and true:  Someone dies, the hero/heroine (or family member) is accused of the crime, and they have to find out who the real killer is.  It's just that I found it boring.  We meet Dani when she is sneaking outside to get away from her family, claiming a migraine.  She heads out to the sugarhouse to have a glass of wine, but she sees what she believes to be a mountain lion outside, and calls animal control.  The officer who shows up, Graham, proceeds to call her (not precisely, but you get the drift), a liar, a drunk, and a woman who made up the story to get a Friday night date.  Not a great first impression for either of them.  But the next day, when certain facts come to light, he proceeds to apologize to her even though she's having none of it.  That's when things start to happen.  It seems a number of exotic animals were set loose in the area, and now the town is on the lookout to catch them.
When Alanza drops dead in her food, Dani's ex-boyfriend Mitch practically accuses her (or one of her relatives) of committing murder to make sure her grandpa wins the pancake eating contest.  Really?  I didn't know pancakes trophies were that prestigious in New Hampshire.  I mean, I would have at least thought the guy could have come up with a better motive.  He's not a very bright officer, in my opinion.  He's also quite nasty.  He lies about her to Graham, and we never do find out why he and Dani broke up.

Also, everyone in her family has names like Celadon, Loden and her grandfather's, Emerald.  She hints that Dani is only a nickname for her "terrible" real name, but doesn't tell us what it is.  Is this the author's way of insuring we buy the next book in the series?  It doesn't work with me.
And I understand that her family makes maple syrup, but how much can you eat without becoming diabetic?  I get that it's their business, but did they ever think of eating anything else?  Everything - or nearly everything - has maple in it.  You'd think at 27 she'd be tired of the stuff; but no, she keeps eating it.  All I know is if I ate the same food, day in and day out, I'd be sick of it before I was her age.  But the people in this town love it, and the restaurant even has maple heart-attack recipes.  (My husband's family has walnut trees in their yard, and he ate so many walnut recipes growing up that he refuses to eat them now, so I know it happens).

Dani herself isn't very likeable.  She tells us she's small, under 5 feet, and shops in the childrens' department at stores.  She also makes a rather snide and shallow remark about her brother eventually going bald.  Plus, she's immature.  When her mother begins dating again, she has problems with it because her father has only been gone "five years."  How long does she expect her mother to wait?  She avoids her family rather than discuss things with them, (which, I've found in my own experience not healthy at all), and personally, I felt that the reason she refuses to get married is just to spite her family, because they are always trying to find someone for her.

Unfortunately, I felt this book was a struggle to read, and I had to force myself to do so.  Maybe if Dani were actually not so sullen or judgmental - but someone else might actually enjoy the book with the information on the sugaring operation in New Hampshire.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to keep me interested.

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