Friday, April 18, 2014

Murder past due by Miranda James

Charlie Harris lives a quiet life in Athena, Mississippi - a quiet little town where he shared the house his aunt left him with a series of students from the local university where he works in the library and archives.  Left a widower after the death of his wife, Charlie shares his life with another unlikely housemate - a rescue Maine Coon he called Diesel.  It is a quiet life with very little excitement, a life of routine and structure where he drifts between his various tasks at the university and his volunteer work at the local public library.  His routines are rocked when Godfrey Priest, local boy turned famous author, blows into town and promptly ends up in a fight - before ending up dead.

Drawn into the investigation by circumstances and an insistent house keeper, Charlie soon finds himself involved in the puzzle of the life and death of Godfrey Priest.  There seems to be no end of potential suspects because not only did Godfrey return to Athena on a frequent basis, he also seemed to make enemies each time he visited.  From husbands seeking revenge because Godfrey had an affair with their wives, to people shafted by Godfrey's less than above board business tactics - and then there is the recently discovered son that Godfrey wants to get to know.  There are so many suspects that it seems like an impossible task to track down the murderer - and with the lead investigator rapidly losing patience with Charlie he may find himself on the wrong side of the law too!

Murder past due was a charming read from the start, made charming in no small part thanks to the antics and personality of a certain Maine Coon named Diesel.  I have been owned by a Maine Coon myself and so there was a certain amount of reminiscing involved because of Diesel's personality - and the laugh out loud moments that seemed to happen because Charlie and Diesel are such a fixture in their town.  What could have been a rather dry murder mystery (it is set in a library and archive for the most part) was instead spiced up with some funny misunderstanding. some petty squabbling, some clich├ęs, and someone who appears to get their just desserts.  Anyone who works in a real library will know that they are not the places of quiet and solitude people think they are - that they have their own quirky squabbles and misunderstandings. and James captures that world perfectly in this murder mystery.

It took a chapter or two to get used to James style and to get a sense for Charlie's world, but I was very quickly absorbed in the story and the little plot twists that keep you guessing about what was going to happen next (or what misstep Charlie was going to make next).  The town of Athena is both charming and quaint, and a place that feels like a real world rather than a perfect world created in the authors imagination.  The plot is well defined and the characters step off the page whole, and while at times the writing seemed a little clumsy it took nothing away from the charm and grit of the story.  I can't wait to see what happens next for Charlie and Diesel. 

I enjoy at least a little humour in my books (and TV series and movies) and Murder past due ticked all the right boxes.  I am new to reading this genre - usually I read the action/thrillers by the likes of Patterson and Gerritsen - but I thoroughly enjoyed the world James has created and can't wait to read more great examples of this genre.

If you like this book then try:
  • Classified as murder by Miranda James
  • Dipped, stripped, and dead by Elise Hyatt
  • French polished murder by Elise Hyatt
  • Books can be deceiving by Jenn McKinlay
  • One for the money by Janet Evanovich
  • Two for the dough by Janet Evanovich
  • Undead and unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
  • Death of a kitchen diva by Lee Hollis

Reviewed by Brilla

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