My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4 stars to Barbara Venkataraman‘s Peril in the Park, her third book in the “Jamie Quinn Mystery” series. I chose to read the electronic version to see if I could switch mediums, but it is also offered as an audio book and in paperback. I imagine the audio book with Duke’s personality would be a really fun way to spend a few hours before bed or on your lunch break!
Jamie takes on her third mystery alongside friends Grace and Duke where she helps her boyfriend Kip determine who is the “Park Vandal” and who is stalking both of them over Kip’s decisions at his new job as the Director of Parks & Recreation in Broward County, Florida. In his new job, Kip’s made some quick decisions to change up the structure of the department and hired/fired several employees. When the commissioner, his boss and some wealthy entrepreneurs apply pressure for Kip to be the deciding vote in favor of building a new tower on wetlands, Kip’s caught between doing the right thing and keeping his job. After Jamie receives threatening emails about Kip, she enlists her friends help to track down who is behind all the mayhem. Is it the commissioner who wants the money the business man is willing to spend? Is the business man crooked? Is it one of the fired employees? Is it the employee who was passed over for the director position? Many good suspects in this one… plus the Renaissance Fair is just a fun treat to watch unfold. And as a good side-story, Jamie finally meets her father through Skype and attempts to find a way to get him citizenship in the US so he can come back from Nicaragua.
This book increases the page count and ties the stories more tightly together. Jamie is quickly becoming a fun heroine you want to root for, and her friends and colleagues make you laugh. The series is developing quite well and brings levity and humor in all the right places. There’s a good balance in showing “a day in the life of Jamie Quinn” without overdoing all the mundane items people deal with besides the fun drama we all want to read about. Before you know it, the story has blossomed and you are invested in the characters. Duke’s antics are always a treat, but he takes it to a new level when he revisits the past in this one.
I would love to see the book extend about 25% longer, but each book has added about 20 pages so it’s definitely progressing in the right direction. The stories have a good plot, but could use a little more mystery, red herrings and suspense to fully complete the hook to drag in a new reader base. If the intended audience is for people who only want a short 1 to 2 hour read, then it’s exactly on target, but with some additional story and plot, advancing to the 3 to 4 hour read, I think it would pick up a much larger fan base.
I’m very supportive of this series because you see the growth over the first three books. I will definitely purchase the fourth one (under $4 bargain!) as it’s a great electronic read.