Here is our next book review from the Book Review Challenge.
Book Club Mum has been reading “Death In A Red Canvas Chair” by Noelle Granger.
Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N.A. Granger Rating: ***
When a female body is posed at the far end of a youth soccer field, no one seems to notice. No one, that is, except Rhe Brewster, an emergency room nurse with an eye for detail and a knack for putting her nose where it doesn’t belong.
Death in a Red Canvas Chair is Noelle Granger’s debut mystery novel, the first in a series about Rhe Brewster and her adventures as an amateur detective. It’s set in the fictional town of Pequod, Maine and offers a nice backdrop of New England coastal living. I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but I do know that all mysteries follow a certain framework, and Death in a Red Canvas Chair is true to this format. Granger presents an intriguing crime, introduces some shady characters, some good guys and muddles it up with some characters you’re not too sure about.
It’s a well-organized, light and entertaining plot-driven read that invites you to solve the crime before you reach the final pages. It’s not too gory or too violent, but there’s enough action and suspense and a few rough moments to keep the story moving. And there are a couple of red herrings to mix things up a little. The author also adds a running list of what Rhe and her colleagues eat, and frequent references to coffee suggest that this mystery will be solved with a great deal of caffeine.
The author’s PhD in anatomy certainly shows, which comes in handy with the medical lingo and, being a sailor myself, I appreciated accuracy of the boat scenes. She offers some character quirkiness as well, mixed in with humour and that helps flesh out the characters and make it an enjoyable read. Marital and family conflicts also add dimension to Granger’s characters.
I’m a bit of a stickler for details, however, especially typos (a few here and there), facts and accurate quotes, and there are a couple that aren’t quite correct. For me, that takes away from the polish of the plot. A little research might have fixed these.
For example, when we learn about Kelly’s character, a possibly violent football player, it might have made more sense to give him a defensive position, not quarterback, because the quarterback is the guy everyone else is trying to sack. Saying Kelly is “rough on the football field” as a quarterback, might occasionally be true, but making Kelly a defensive end or a linebacker is much more plausible.
Rhe remembers a slogan at a coffee shop she used to visit and quotes T. S. Eliot. The real quote from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” not “My life is measured out in coffee spoons.”
The words to Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” are permanently etched in my brain, so the author’s reference to this song was fun for me, but the quote isn’t quite right. The real lyrics are “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee” – not “there are clouds in my coffee, clouds and dreams.”
Also, I’m not sure that drying out a phone in a bag of rice is a new idea. That’s been done many times at my house, thanks to rain, laundry mishaps and other water-related accidents!
All in all, however, Death in a Red Canvas Chair is polished and tight and it’s easy to imagine Rhe Brewster becoming mired in a lot more mysteries!