For fans of: Maggie Sefton
Library director Lindsey Norris loves her new life in Briar Creek, Connecticut – especially the part where she gets to work alongside one of her best friends in the world, Beth Stanley. Beth’s not only a wonderful librarian, but she’s also an aspiring children’s author, so when an editor from Caterpillar Press arrives in town looking for a little R&R, Lindsey suggests Beth use the opportunity to get some feedback on her work-in-progress. Beth’s nervous, but excited by the idea – that is, until her boyfriend Rick, a well-known children’s author in his own right, finds out about her plans, blows his top, and dumps her on the spot.
Beth’s hurt and confused by Rick’s reaction, but seeks out the editor, anyway, only to discover the real reason behind Rick’s crazy behavior: he’s about to publish a book bearing a striking resemblance to Beth’s own.
Beth and Lindsey go to Rick’s house to confront him, but instead find him dead –stabbed through the chest, the word “liar” scrawled across his forehead. The police arrive and start asking questions, but when they find out about Beth’s breakup with Rick and her subsequent accusations of plagiarism, she immediately becomes the focus of their investigation. Can Lindsay solve the mystery of Rick’s murderer and catch the real killer before her friend is sent to prison for a crime she didn’t commit?
Books Can Be Deceiving, the first in author Jenn McKinlay’s new Library Lover’s Mystery series, is a good mystery told poorly. The setup is intriguing, and in the right hands, this book could have been a fast-paced, twisty little thriller; unfortunately, however, McKinlay never capitalizes on her idea’s potential and the end result is a somewhat dull and mediocre book. The story is lacking in action, tension, and drama. The pace is plodding, the storyline meanders, and not enough of the plot relates to the mystery. There are precious few clues, and even fewer viable suspects. And the final showdown is decidedly lacking in oomph.
I usually love McKinlay’s characters; they’re a big part of what sold me on her Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, and up until a few days ago, I would have said that character development was her strong suit as an author. I’m sorry to say, though, that almost none of the characters in her new series ring true. Lindsey isn’t a terribly likable heroine; judgmental, bitter, and not just a little mean, you find yourself wondering just how she ended up with so many friends. Beth is charming and fully fleshed, but most of the rest of the supporting cast comes off as either cartoonish and over-the-top or boring and two-dimensional. And while McKinlay is obviously trying to set up the charming and ruggedly handsome Captain Sully as a love interest for Lindsey, the chemistry between the two is practically non-existent.
It bums me out when an author I like writes a book that I don’t. Jenn McKinlay is a talented writer; I just feel like maybe her heart wasn’t in this one. I’m not saying Books Can Be Deceiving isn’t worth reading, but I wouldn’t suggest you put it at the top of your list.