My rating: 4 of 5 stars
#Mayhem at the Orient Express was a good start to the League of Literary Ladies #mystery series. I stumbled upon this through a Goodreads recommendation based on the other cozy serial mysteries that I often read. I certainly wasn’t disappointed but I also wasn’t amazed by the debut.
I eventually began liking the main characters, the setting and the overall style. From this first in series, it appears there will be 4 leading female characters — perhaps 1 lead and 3 supporting female characters may be more appropriate. Kate and Bea were a little too similar for me, at least in their attitude and dialogue but I suspect over time they will get more distinct. Chandra brings the comedy and levity to keep the wheels turning, but it’s the addition of Luella as the one who rounds out the group who makes them seem more like a family. The 4 come together in an unusual way which I’m not sure I am too fond of, but it eventually works enough to get the relationships started or on a different course depending on how much credence you give to the squabbling at the beginning of the story.
I’m hopeful that if this will be called the League of Literary Ladies, their interest in books will become more apparent. Chandra’s preference to see the film versions rather than read is cute, but if you are going to call them the League of Literary Ladies, I think they will need to be more literate!
I greatly appreciate the story’s narration or point of view coming from Bea who is the most logical on most occasions. I’m very fond of the author dropping in a little sarcasm directly calling out that there are readers or an audience to the book’s hijinks. It only appears a few times, just enough to make you chuckle, but not enough to pull you out of or away from the actual story.
The B&B backdrop is strong. It will bring easy snooping, lots of new characters, and reasons why the protagonists are so often close to murders and mysteries. The most fascinating mystery is actually what brought Bea to this island from New York. In the first book we learn a few of her secrets and personal tragedies, but there are definitely strong direct and indirect hints at even more things we really need to know about her.
The relationships with the male characters throughout the story are slow to start but have potential. I’m not sure they are too critical to the story when you have 4 females already playing off one another in the suspense and clue-tracking escapades. It’ll probably serve up good fodder for backdrop in helping the protagonists have more personality and feel more connected to the reader.
I’ll give book 2 a chance to see where it’s going… curious what others thought?