Monday Book Review: Grave in the Garage

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I think this is going to be the last cozy mystery for a while. I’m going to hunt out something new for the next month. Hopefully my disclaimer above is up to scratch, please let me know if there’s something I should have said. It’s my first rodeo.

Grave in the Garage.

My summary: A female vicar with a nose for trouble (and cake) gets drawn into another murder investigation, which she has quite the knack for doing. Spoilers ahead.

Plot: Trots along neatly, it feels like the story overall is completed in just a few days. I think that’s not an uncommon thing for this genre, because when you sit down at the end of a week to read something light you don’t want the story dragging on. This one has more depth than the last book I reviewed on account of the above vicar, and the mystery is solved in between delicious cake, adorable puppies and something that just may become a budding romance. I’ve been tracking that last one for at least two books now.

Also! This book introduces a bit of a darker aspect to this sleepy village, which I quite liked, and thankfully the explanation wasn’t tangled like a ball of yarn.

The murderer. For once, I guessed correctly. I think it was something in the set-up of introducing this person, or maybe just the way they were portrayed, but… yeah. Can’t say I was surprised when the Vicar confronted the murderer. Just, thank goodness it wasn’t a case of it being the One Person We Never Saw, Ever.

Characters: Likeable, comfortable as stepping into an old pair of boots, and developing character. As I said there’s the above potential romance, which has me side-eyeing the books speculatively. Enough new characters are introduced to make the murder, backstory, suspects etc work, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. We’re getting to know them better as we go along.

I find I can visualize with relative ease the characters, so they’re not just drawn with pencil on tracing paper. They’re filled in, outlined and defined. It’s also a bonus being able to picture places and locations.

Cover and title: Stylized. Each one features the Vicar and the new cause of the mystery. Consistent, which I like, and the titles are neatly alliterative. It’s very pleasing to my ear.

Netflix Scale is broken, but I read this over the weekend. There were probably other things in the background but I’m remembering the book well enough that I’m not referring heavily to it as I type. Also, I don’t remember what else I may have been doing in the background.

Overall 4 stars, as rated on Goodreads. I felt the murderer was set up a bit too much, maybe that could have been toned down to make it a bit more surprising. This time the perpetrator was someone we saw frequently enough that they  didn’t fade into the shadows and come crawling out just in  time to reveal the dastardly plot. Cake descriptions are given their due respect, but without droning on and on.

And, importantly, it’s not heavy on the preaching.

Ending: a brief epilogue, in which the secondary plots are resolved and setting up for the next book. As it should be.

Food comparison: Homemade ciabatta with roast beef and mustard, carefully seasoned. Follow with a cupcake – Annabelle would approve.

The Countdown Begins

Since the haiku challenge I regularly do on Sundays isn’t up this week, I figured now was a good time to take stock of How Things Look.

There’s a thing called Prep-tober, in which I guess you prep for NaNoWriMo. That begins in six days, and I’ve just checked its actual description: World building, brainstorming… So basically I get the time to invent a town, which I like. Er, just a little fictional place.

And of course, 31 days later is the event itself. I apparently have something of a reputation at the office, I mentioned it to one of my colleagues the other day and she seemed to know I do this. (I haven’t had the heart to mention how I still have drafts from two years ago waiting for edits, but let’s not spoil the illusion)

October is also going to be a mad month, because reasons. Science.

I’ve got my plot. My genre is affixed to the wall. I know my main character. I know the protagonist and the venues.

I am ready.

Over Coffee (17)

If we were having coffee, it’d be a quiet hour over coffee and idly watching the weather. I’ve sort of run out of things to talk about, since I have a pile of secret things to not discuss until they’re more solid. There’s not much new to report on the work front, and the other work front isn’t really an interesting topic right now, though  I’m making plans. Gearing up for NaNoWriMo and some prep work  plus another two projects.

All systems are go.

The weather’s been horrible today, not what you would expect from early spring, but at least the garden is getting well-hydrated. I’m sure I’m going to get sick again, mooching around in bad weather like I have been.

This cafe is nice. New, I think. I haven’t been here before, but they do good coffee at a reasonable price. I’m ordering cake because it’s the weekend, what will you have?

How was  your week?

Vignette (2)

The shop is tiny, the very definition of a hole-in-the wall – at least, assuming there is a wall. People huddle together, each staring at a smartphone or with headphones on. They’re all waiting for their turn to order a coffee, and they pay quickly.

The outside of the store is very plain, advertising coffee and foods at bizarrely low prices. There’s no decoration, nothing to catch the eye beyond the expected shop name and window. Next door, the restaurant with the bright-yellow awning and chunky black lettering looks garish, conspicuous.

People hurry past the yellow awning, rushing off to proceed about their evenings. None of them pay any mind to the little restaurant, where I can see a middle-aged man working over a griddle. A baseball cap covers his face as he flickers between two stovetops, piling some kind of bread or pastry onto a plate. The stack looks precariously tall, and I can’t place exactly what the items on the tray are.

Despite the busyness swirling just in front of his shop and the lack of an earphone wire, he appears oblivious. His concentration doesn’t falter, and I take a moment for envying him the focus he has. There’s no-one else in the shop, no patrons that I can see or other co-workers.

He’s in his own oasis of calm amidst a busy city street.

Letters to Euturpe: 26

Tonight I have a sneaky headache, the kind that bides its time all afternoon and then leaps in through the window when you’re browsing the interwebs.

I’ve also been spending time conniving all the Secret Things my brain can handle, and my bandwidth is all used up. Think I ran out of mental storage space long ago – the hard drive is packed, and I’m not sure the mental USB can handle the rest of the ideas.

Okay. Your new song challenge for the week is a bit a of throwback to early challenges: same band, different song. This song is also the first of the band’s songs that I fell in love with. It was a steady progression. The song is Real, by the Controversy.