3 of 5 stars to A.H. Gabhart‘s Murder at the Courthouse, the first in the “Hidden Springs” cozy mystery series. I downloaded this free e-book for Kindle and read it on my iPad. While the story was clever and interesting, it wasn’t as appealing as I’d hoped.
Michael Keane leaves his position on the Columbus police force when he realizes he doesn’t want to watch people suffer in the city. Orphaned at 15, he’s seen enough death and returns home to his peaceful and quiet town of Hidden Springs, Kentucky, where nothing ever happens. Unfortunately, as he’s drinking his morning coffee at the town’s police office and courthouse, he discovers a dead body sitting at the entrance. As he investigates all the key players in the town to see which gossip may have seen it happen, he quickly finds no one knew the stranger. But as he recalls the death of his parents, and helps another young kid find his own parents, the whole story comes together. In the end, Mike finds the culprit with the young kid’s help but his little town will never be the same again.
If you like very slow-paced cozy mysteries set in a religious and judgmental town, then this book’s for you! It wasn’t for me. Too much talk about prayer saving the town (not that I don’t believe, but it was just hammered into the text way too often), too repetitive (retold the same facts to at least one new town person each chapter), too many theories and characters to keep track of (at least 10 townspeople who “may” have had a motive)… overall, it fell a bit disorganized and should have been at least 60 pages shorter.
On the positive side, the story had some merit and new plot lines. There were a few likable characters. And the connections between all the stories was a nice culmination.
It’s not an awful book, but it will take a non-traditional cozy reader who wants to just hear the same things over and over again to stick with it. I’ll probably pass on the rest of the series, but don’t let me steer you in the wrong direction. I’m sure there’s an audience for it — just not me!