Rosemary & Larry Mild,
Death Takes a Mistress: A Dan & Rivka Sherman Mystery
(Magic Island Literary Works, 2014)

Let me start off by saying, don't judge a book by its cover. Usually I do, and usually I'm not wrong. This time I was. The cover of this book is unremarkable, and I judged this book to be unremarkable as well. While not a great or amazing book, it is a solid mystery that is worth a read by any mystery fan.

The book starts off in London, where Lainee Cohen is about to meet her partner, a man she affectionately calls Snooks. Lainee has some big news to tell him: She has a child, and it is his. Only Snooks is already married with children, and he snaps at the revelation and kills Lainee.

The child, Ivy, is left with neighbors to raise; however, she has an urge to solve her mother's murder. Following a clue in her mother's diary, Ivy gets on a plane out of London and moves to Annapolis to solve the 23-year-old murder.

This is an interesting and pleasant read. The characters and setting are particularly strong. Ivy is well written, although at times she seems like a cliche due to her recklessness, but usually she comes off as being very human. In the beginning of the novel, Ivy gets a job as a book-selling assistant at a bookstore run by Dan and Rivka Sherman, and I think these characters were wonderfully written. They had very human characteristics and reacted realistically to the most of the events transpiring in the book. Especially Rivka: At times her character can be moody, but you can see her struggle to control her mood swings and her recognition of her changing personality. The setting also was surprisingly vivid. The town is described very well, and it gives you a cozy feeling to imagine it, like a town you would want to live in.

Other aspects of the novel aren't so positive. It seems like every man in the story had some sort of affair, and that just took me out of the story. I couldn't believe that every man was a womanizing bastard, and I couldn't believe that although all the wives knew, they stayed with them. The mystery also could have been done a bit better, as I found myself not really caring about the mystery, and the reveal wasn't very effective. This led to a problem in the middle section of the book, which tended to drag. I had to force myself to read through it. My final, and tiny complaint, is that there are many characters that you won't remember them all when they pop up. I confused so many members of the family with each other, which was incredibly frustrating.

This book is good, and it is definitely worth a read by people who love mystery. It is not pulpy, or a noir novel obviously so don't expect that coming into it, just expect a classic mystery novel, and expect to sit back and enjoy it.

book review by
Vlady Kozubnyak

14 February 2015

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