So there I was, desperate for a new book. But not just any new book. I wanted something that would allow me to get lost in the story but not keep me up at night. A book that is engaging without making me think about it while I’m trying to work. Something light and frothy but not just a romance. Well, be careful what you wish for because this book is a Hallmark murder mystery set in Cornwall.
I have no idea how I came across Death Plays a Part (Book one of Cornish Castle Mysteries) but it had excellent reviews on Goodreads, it was on sale, and the premise sounded okay: A murder mystery set in a castle on a small island in Cornwall. The heroine is a costumer/set designer out of work in the theatre and spending her summer working at the castle.
Let me tell you why I believe this story is well-liked by most others first… or, let’s start with the good bits. The author does a wonderful job of world building and mostly character building. She has a fantastic lyrical style and her descriptions transport you in a wonderful way that feels easy and fresh and not like the author wrote the descriptions with a thesaurus beside them. All of the characters feel mostly well-rounded and complex (there are a few that are pretty thin but the book isn’t long.)
Now… the actual plot and mystery itself. Oy. It was like a paint by numbers murder mystery. From almost the moment of the murder itself the average adult who has ever read or watched a murder mystery would have known who the killer was… which, fine if that was the intent. Instead the author spent almost as much time trying to put red-herrings in the way but did it so ham-fistedly you just get annoyed. By the time it came to the end and the reveal I was rolling my eyes and screaming at the book. All the clues are laid out. Every piece of evidence and red herring is telegraphed in advance. The author has not one but TWO characters go through the entire exposition.
I honestly don’t know what to say because I did like the characters, and the setting very much. Her writing style is incredibly easy to digest. But I just can’t. Maybe for someone who is a slow reader? A book you can take on a trip and pass around from ages 10 and up? A nursing home reading hour? (I’m not being insulting I genuinely think these would be great audiences for this book. A voracious reader or mystery buff should stay clear.)