Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Booked 4 Murder (A Sophie Kimball Mystery)

Author:  J.C. Eaton
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Bopk
ISBN #:  9781496708557
Kensington Publishing
320 Pages
June 27, 2017


Sophie "Phee" Kemball is not a cop.  She's a divorced, middle-aged mom who works as an account clerk for the police department in a small city in Minnesota.  But her retired mother, Harriet Plunkett, is convinced Phee is the only one who can solve the mystery of a cursed book.  According to Harriet, four members of her book club have already succumbed to the deadly curse.  Harriet insists Phee catch the next plane to her retirement community in Sun City West, Arizona, to investigate.

Is her mother just bored and lonely?  She does have a new pet - a long-hair chiweenie (half Chihuahua, half Dachshund) - for company and a host of pals (although that number is admittedly dwindling).  Phee is certain that their book club selection isn't cursed, but is somebody really knocking off the ladies?  As Phee starts to uncover dark secrets hidden in plain sight under the blazing Arizona sun, she'll need to read between the lines before it's someone else's final chapter...


Sophie 'Phee' Kimball works in the Mankato, Minnesota police department in accounting.  One day she receives a call from her mother Harriet, who lives in a retirement community in Sun City, Arizona.  It seems her mother's book club, Booked 4 Murder, has been reading a book that is 'cursed' according to Harriet.  She wants Phee to come to Arizona and investigate the situation and find out the truth before there are any more deaths.  Phee thinks it's ridiculous, but with a little coaxing from a police detective friend, she decides to make the trip.

Once she arrives, she tries to convince her mother of everything only being coincidences - these were elderly women, after all; but when Harriet insists it was murder, Phee reluctantly begins an investigation into the deaths.  Not knowing how to go about it, she manages a mish mash way of asking questions, and trying to discover the truth.  Even though it takes awhile, Phee begins to put together the pieces and discovers how easy it is for coincidences to become reality.

I really wanted to like this book more.  The plot was interesting:  a cursed book that makes people drop dead from merely reading it.  On top of that, it's a self-published book that no one seems to have ever heard of, and it appeared on the club's book list without anyone having requested it.  Yes, it had a nice premise, but unfortunately, it couldn't be carried through.

I just couldn't connect with any of the characters.  Phee seemed pretty dull to me, almost like she had given up on life when she got divorced.  She is only 45, but acts like she's older than her mother.  She has no social life, no boyfriend, no pets (otherwise how could she leave so easily?).  It appears she goes to work, comes home, and repeats it every day - what a life.  We're not even sure what she looks like except that she has a nice figure.  And she talks to herself - a lot.  In fact, some of those conversations were extremely boring.

I also didn't feel that it was much of a mystery.  Usually the protagonist doesn't breeze through the investigation the way Phee did.  There was no sense that she might be in danger at any time; it seemed like she was in a retirement community with a bunch of elderly people who had nothing better to do but gossip about their neighbors.

When the ending came and all the pieces were put together, I felt that it was a bit of a letdown.  There weren't really any consequences for anything - some people were even basically rewarded for their part in it all!  That just did not feel realistic to me.  In any event, since this is the first in a series, I imagine that it will need tweaking and become better with the second one, so I will read the next.


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