It's Jaime Jo here! My turn today to report on a recent read by an author I am very not familiar with :). But it had "murder" in the title, and you all know me. While, I love some history and romance, a few murder mysteries sprinkled in is always a bonus!
This novel's first line definitely caught my attention: "In that first week of February, we didn't know that Overton University was about to exceed its annual quota of murders."
Right? If you're not into murder mysteries, stop here. But if you enjoy a good mystery without the wordy, 500+ page plot so layered with a zillion characters that you lose track, please continue.
Things I wasn't sure about:
The book is in first person. That is always iffy for me. Some books are done ridiculously well in first person perspective and others, I feel as if I'm reading a diary, and frankly, I never wrote a diary in my life. 'Nuf said. But with this novel I was able to forget about the perspective within the first page (That's a good thing). So if you're not a fan of first person but love mysteries, this is worth a read.
The main character is fifty years old. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not insinuating that is old, by any means, but most novel characters in books like these average to be in their 30's and maybe 40's. So, an older MC was new for me. The good thing? It worked, and it worked well.
It's from a small publisher. Ok. Don't skewer me. The publishing industry is very competitive right now and large publishers aren't necessarily signing the mid-list amazing authors. But still, with the reputation of the big hit authors, sometimes the small publishers aren't as .... picky as I'd personally prefer them to be. Let's just say, a small publisher has to gain my trust. It was pleasantly earned. And, I must say, I'm thrilled to see a smaller publisher like Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas giving authors like Donn Taylor the exposure and shelf-space they deserve.
It seemed a tad wordy. Ok. Hear me out. I read a lot of mysteries and suspense. So I expect the chapters to end with hooks that keep me reading. Murder Mezzo Forte does this. In almost every chapter. Here's where I tripped up just a little (but not enough to eliminate a star from my rating): the main character is a professor. There are numerous references to classical music (which I enjoy from my own high-school course on the maestros of true form art). There are also some areas where the professor's class is described, as in what he was teaching. It doesn't tend to urge the mystery forward, but yet it does set the stage to learn who the main character is. There are references to Renaissance and Western Civilization and I will credit the author that, while you can tell it is very much a passion of his, he stops himself right before the reader becomes distracted. So. It COULD seem a tad wordy to some, but to others, they may read on without hesitation. So Mr. Taylor keeps a solid balance, but to a younger reader, this verges on sometimes being distracting. (But we're also the ones who are part of the social media frenzy with rapidly changing screens, so it's probably good for us to slow it down a bit!)
Here's what I liked:
The story kept moving. I know that sounds simplistic in a review, but many mysteries don't. They just plod along until you're reader to murder the main character yourself.
The main character was a father. I liked this element. It made him very human. While I don't have college-aged children by any means, I'm catching glimpses into what it will be like in my future. Seeing the MC's relationship to his child was a good angle for this character.
Older romance. Ok. So, you CAN fall in love in your 50's! :) ;) Seriously, there is some light romance in the novel, but so light it's allowable in a murder mystery. And, it's refreshing to have a romance that is realistic and set in the older years and not just the butterfly-romance of the 20's.
The mystery was solid. At least the author knows who he is. Some mysteries I read it seems as though the author is wanting to write in various genres so they mash them all together and call it a mystery. This is first, and very foremost, a murder mystery. There is suspense, explosions, life threatening situations and plots with threads. They all tie together and are satisfactory and really, male or female will enjoy this novel.
So I give Murder Mezzo Forte four stars. It's well-written, a solid plot, enjoyable characters. It's worth a read. Male readers will enjoy it probably a tad more than female, but then that's stereotyping, which I abhor, so let me rephrase. Readers who enjoy a good murder/suspense plot with light romance that is definitely not the focus, will enjoy this novel. Readers looking for that 50/50 split of suspense and romance will not find that in this novel. It's worth the read, the buy, and inevitably deserves a solid cup of black coffee to go along with it!
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He is a reclusive history professor
with musical hallucinations...
She a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they're probably guilty of her murder.
Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they're probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs.
Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.
Can this ill-matched pair's stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college's incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse .
Published by: Lamplighter Mysteries
Format: paperback (298 pp.)
Release Date: June 9, 2016
eBook available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble
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