Today’s team review is from Fiona.
Fiona blogs here https://fionaforsythauthor.co.uk/blog/
Fiona has been reading Death By Pins And Needles by Susie Black.
There’s a lot about the swimsuit world I didn’t know, and now I know never to get involved. Too many murders…
The setup for the Holly Swimsuit series is a close-knit set of people all operating out of one building, all members of the same profession, which is an ideal murder mystery scenario. I found that there were many people to get my head around at the start. I also felt that as a Brit I didn’t get many of the in-jokes and cultural references, but this didn’t really matter.
Holly has her gang of girlfriends, who all let her bounce ideas around and do some of the donkey work for her. They are way more efficient than the police at this, so I hope LAPD’s finest were taking note. Holly is the most gung-ho amateur sleuth I can remember reading, and her inability to let go leads her into some serious danger. There are times when her obstinacy is irritating, as is her refusal to let the police do their thing – but then, the police move a snail’s pace and Holly doesn’t have much patience! The police are depicted realistically, hampered by procedure and lack of funds. At one point a piece of evidence cannot be retrieved from the body for several days because the coroner has to send off for a special pair of tweezers, and this rings as all too likely. No wonder Holly has to step in.
Holly’s technique is unsubtle: having drawn up a list of suspects she visits each of them in turn and badgers them until they throw her out. It doesn’t get her very far, but she’s nothing if not a trier. Her insistence on putting the Iranian refugee at the top of her list for no good reason that I could see – apart from a tenuous argument that he would be more likely to be familiar with a typewriter because he comes from another country – was a little uncomfortable. Fortunately the suspect himself pointed this out to her and she was honest enough to back down.
Occasionally the wise-cracking is overwritten, and I feel that the editing process was not sufficiently tight to benefit the author. Typos happen to the best of us, but the “discreet/discrete” problem should be picked up as should the repetitions. Compare the lawyer described as “diminutive octogenarian criminal defense attorney extraordinaire” with a neighbour “prickly, independent octogenarian sailor extraordinaire”. A tendency to change tense in the middle of the sentence also jarred with me: “The Boat Doctor couldn’t say how long my poor girl will be out of commission, let alone if saving her is possible.” If they don’t interrupt the reader’s flow, these things don’t particularly matter, but these did interrupt the flow for me.
This story has energy and pace, but for me, is let down by by poor editing and a hero I didn’t really warm to.
The last thing Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected to find when she opened the closet door was nasty competitor Lissa Charney’s battered corpse nailed to the wall. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Lissa’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth sticks her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong to sniff out the real killer. Nothing turns out the way she thinks it will as Holly matches wits with a heartless killer hellbent on revenge.