Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Mediocre Halloween Mystery

Harry Haristeen and her animal friends are back. Out driving with Fair, her husband, they find a scarecrow in a field that turns out to be a dead body. The body is close to the vegetable stand run by Hester Martin, an eccentric cmiddle-aged lady. She's planning a Halloween Hayride and Harry and her pals are involved in the set up. Everyone seems eager to be frightened, but a little wary because of the murdered man dressed as a scarecrow.

Usually, I love the Sneaky Pie Brown series. However, this book was not up to standard. The mystery looked interesting at the start, but there was no investigation. Things kept happening until the result was forced on the characters. In fact the mystery was so simple I figured it out from reading the list of characters in the beginning, not all the details, but who-done-it.

The characters seemed flat. The animals had a less interesting part than usual. Mostly they bickered with each other, more accurately Pewter and Tee Tucker bickered and Mrs. Murphy tried to be the peace maker. They weren't as much fun as previous books where they were continually outguessing the humans.

I thought there were too many long dissertations on social issues. I don't want a text book on social issues when I'm reading a mystery. Building them in as part of the motivation is fine, but long paragraphs become tedious.

I found the writing, particularly the dialog very stilted. Using tags like “the middle-aged lady said” or the “intelligent cat thought” seemed poorly done. I'm sure the author could have done better than these cliché tags. They were very annoying.

I wish I could recommend this book, but I can't unless you're a serious fan of the series. It's not up to the standard of the previous books, only interesting if you want to keep up with the happenings in Crozet.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.