Why This Book
I belong to a cozy mystery reader group that offers ARCs of upcoming books through a giveaway contest. I won Alan Chaput‘s book, Savannah Sleuth, the first in his Vigilantes for Justice series from Falcon Press, published in early 2018.
Approach & Style
I read the paperback version of this 271-page novel in 4 hours over 3 days. It is told with a third-person point-of-view and via a perspective focused primarily on the main character, Patricia (Patsy); however, ~20% of the chapters focus on other characters so that readers know what’s going on behind the scenes even though Patsy is unaware what has happened.
Plot, Characters & Setting
The novel takes place in Savannah, Georgia with a trip to Paris, France for a few chapters. It focuses on super-rich Patricia (Patsy) Falcon, her mother, her husband their daughter, friends and enemies. Patsy’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances, prompting Patsy and her friends to search for the killer… but here’s where this story takes a different arc. Her husband is part of a coalition to protect Savannah, so he’s secretly investigating the death as well but she doesn’t know it. As Patsy and her friends begin finding leads, more people keep dying or having accidents. Throw in some family issues with their daughter, side-stories involving the church, a homeless man who is searching for a parent, philanthropic efforts among the different friends in Patsy’s group, affairs, and a very high-tech security detail… and you’ve got a lot of things to try and connect across the chapters.
Savannah as a backdrop is a wonderful setting. I’ve not been to the city but will be going later this year at the end of summer. I can’t wait to see how well reality compares to the descriptions in this novel. It was highly engrossing, completely beautiful, and impressive in terms of how well integrated into the story. I felt like I was there while reading the book.
The vigilante concept is quite intriguing when you consider the vigilantes are the super-rich who run the city. Between the gun-toting society ladies, the friendly welcome and assistance of homeless, and openness about how they need to murder bad people in order to protect the town, I found myself constantly surprised at what people said and did.
A few parts made me turn my head and scratch the back of my scalp… only because it just didn’t seem like a specific action could really happen the way it did, but it felt like maybe that was the point of the story. Once I just let my concerns go, falling into the complexity and depth of the story, I loved it. I felt the same way about the ending in terms of leaving too many things unsolved; however, it’s clear those will be addressed in book two. Had some of these been a bit stronger or more fleshed out, I would have given this a cozy mystery a 5-star rating.
Chaput has a great platform and baseline to tell many stories in this series. The characters are rich with interesting personalities; I often couldn’t tell who to trust and who to fear… it’s a lot of grey and very little black and white. That was one of my favorite parts.
I’m very excited about this new mystery series. It’s a solid 4+ star rating and may have been higher if a few loose threads were tied together before the end. It’s a little darker than a typical cozy, but in a good way. I like how there’s a lot going on in the stories, especially the side plots and secondary characters. I will definitely be reading the next one which is coming out very soon.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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3 of 5 stars to Mary Ellis‘s Sunset in Old Savannah, the fourth in her “Secrets of the South” mystery series. In this book, the Price Investigation team heads to Savannah to investigate a new case and enjoy this lovely view:
This was my introduction to the series, as I received a free ARC from NetGalley and Harvest House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I will go back to read the first few books, and I suggest reading this series in order to ensure you understand all the history. This was a good ole’ cozy, leaving me interested in reading more, but didn’t spark a major love-fest with the series quite yet. Let’s hit the slopes…
As I didn’t read Books 1 thru 3, I’m not sure I have the full background, but here’s the gist: Michael Preston and Beth Kirby have been working together for a short time as PIs in the Price Investigation Firm. Beth’s a former cop who left the force after a bad experience with a former partner. Michael resigned from his accounting position to take up more investigative work. Their boss sends them from their hometown in Natchez, Mississippi to Savannah, Georgia to help a wealthy woman, Evelyn Doyle, determine if her husband is cheating. Seems a few fights and sparks have happened between Michael and Beth in previous books, but that’s all so far.
After a few days in Savannah, they prove Evelyn’s husband was having an affair with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Evelyn thanks them and mentions she will forgive him and ask him to stop, after all, she is a good, Christian woman. Beth thinks the woman’s a little crazy, but later finds kinship with her, almost looking at her as a mother-figure. The boss encourages the pair to take a few paid days off and relax after finishing the case early. But when they do, they start getting a little romantic and wondering whether there could be more between them. Suddenly, Evelyn calls from jail, needing help to get a lawyer and release — hubby’s dead!
Along the path, Beth and Michael discover some shenanigans in the husband’s insurance business, a brother with a grudge, a confused and bitter jilted lover and some secrets about where the wealth came from. Michael and Beth split the work, track down clues and try not to piss off the local police who want them out of town ASAP. Beth comes closest to tracking down the ultimate culprit and finds herself in need of a rescue at the end.
But the boss, who has too much work in Savannah, asks them to recruit another PI to work out of Savannah for future cases… while solving the murder and helping their client Evelyn, the pair interview potential candidates and take-on a new case at a sushi restaurant where the owner suspects someone’s stealing.
1. The setting is beautiful. Love hearing about the old town squares, the weather, the big homes, the views of the ocean. Helps bring a clear picture into focus for the story.
2. The banter between the two leads can be amusing part of the time. But on the whole, their dialogue felt a bit stiff and planned. Too much unnecessary drama for a couple starting to date. They fell into all the traps of the boring get to know you details.
3. Beth Kirby can be very annoying. In the first few chapters, she’s a complete and utter train wreck to her partner and the client. She seems to think she’s better than everyone else, has a snotty reply that can only be taken one way, and she has trust issues. I’d have dropped her right away… but she gets better throughout the book. Only issue is, there were times where I thought she wasn’t likable enough to read another book. Part of her attitude becomes a little bit of charm along the way, even though she cries several times, which makes me think she’s not well-balanced to handle a job as a PI. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometime’s it’s not.
4. The POV alternates between Michael and Beth, or the focus of their activities does — one or the other. Doesn’t feel 100% consistent. Then when the third detective is added, and a different case being discussed, it feels a little off. While it was a fun short diversion, it won’t work for all readers.
So while parts of the book fell a bit flat, the overall story arch, the characters, the setting, etc. had some good points and I’d be curious to see another book by this author. It’s a decent read, the normal cozy you can handle over a few days and drift off into someone else’s world without getting too caught up. Take it for a spin and get comfy in the historic charm of Old Savannah.