Saturday, July 6, 2013

Book Review: A Killer Maize by Paige Shelton

What starts out as a small town fair with some rides and a few market stalls changes quickly into a murder scene swarming with police. In the middle of it all is Becca Robins, who was asked to set up a small market stand to sell her products and help attract more visitors to the fair. While neither she nor the Swayton County Fall Festival saw a marked increase in visitors, that changes when the operator of the ferris wheel is found dead.
The day before all hell breaks loose, Becca had started a conversation with the murder victim and had intended to learn more about his background. Now she wished she had not delayed this talk because she is looking at very few useful clues to solve this mystery. But she muddles through and with the help of the local police she can sort things out in the end. The storyline has some interesting twists and additional facets, such as a gypsy curse, are thrown in to make the storyline more complex. Despite the twists and turns, the author never gets distracted from the actual goal of solving the crime and the reader can leisurely follow the step Becca takes to determine the identity of the killer. 

With the mystery moving along at a good speed, the author also manages to weave a good bit of romance into the storyline. Becca, while trying to solve the murder, also needs to solve her problematic love life. She is torn between two equally attractive men, her boyfriend Ian and police officer Sam. Since she had to work closely together with Sam to solve the murder and Sam, much to Becca’s dismay, is a tad old-fashioned in his moral view of commitment, Becca is struggling equally to sort out this mess as she is to determine who is responsible for the murder. Add in that her ex-husband Scott is operating the shooting gallery at the fair and her personal life can be at times overwhelming. Despite this tumultuous build-up, the author manages to lighten these problems through witty comments by Becca. The tone of the story is definitely light and the book overall is entertaining the reader in the tradition of cozy mysteries that have a bit of romance thrown in. 

I like this book because having lived in the Midwest for a number of years the fictional town of Orderville is reminiscent of many small towns I encountered during these years. Even the fair resembles some of the fairs I attended. And while I was initially wary of the many lovers and personal connections that Becca has, the author does a very good job of interweaving the romance with the mystery story without confusing the reader. Overall, for a mystery story that has a very strong romance subplot, this book is excelling at keeping both angles separate enough throughout the book to avoid that the reader feels being sidetracked by the subplots.

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