Rating: 1.5 stars
Please note I received this book for free from the Kindle Scout program.
Maggie’s life changed the night some armed men broke into her home and murdered her boyfriend. Hot-headed and often impulsive, she demands answers, but, finding none, takes it on herself to solve her boyfriend’s murder. At the same time she deals with managing her boyfriend’s pizza restaurant since he left it to her, an older male neighbor who sure seems interested in her, and an old boyfriend who can’t take no for an answer and whom she can’t stay away from. And now someone seems to be out to get her, too.
I wanted to like this. I liked that Maggie was capable of taking things into her own hands. But this is a mystery and the mystery was sorely lacking. Certainly, it was present and it seemed to be going somewhere during the first third or so. But then it stopped. Well, not entirely, but it definitely became light on the mystery and heavy on the drama in Maggie’s professional and romantic lives. It made the ending disappointing with how sudden it came (even though I figured out who was behind it before I reached the halfway point) since it had actually been mostly missing for almost half the book.
But what really annoyed me were Maggie and Jeff and their characterizations. They were great in the sense that they were unique and consistent and you knew exactly what motivated them. But Maggie enjoyed the male attention too much and didn’t bother learning what went into owning a franchise, making her butt heads with corporate way too many times. Then there was Jeff, the old boyfriend. Possessive and jealous, he was always there for Maggie, but always had ulterior motives that Maggie always turned a blind eye to. Their relationship really annoyed me and I couldn’t figure out how this 27 year old woman who had been in a healthy relationship could just fall into this trap over and over and over…
Now, this book wasn’t all bad. Barnhart did a great job of weaving information into the narrative. The characters could give Maggie the information she needed and it flowed seamlessly. Overall, this was actually very nicely written. I enjoyed the nearly flawless, flowing writing. It was the story that disappointed me. I had a difficult time getting through it. I wish Barnhart had spent more time on the mystery and less time on everything else. A lot of it was necessary to flesh out the characters and their motivations, but there is a whole chunk regarding the sister of the boyfriend that I didn’t find particularly necessary, among other things.
The Bottom Line: This is a fairly slow moving mystery. The characters, dialogue, and setting are really well-written, but the mystery suffered while the rest of the story blossomed.