Sick of Shadows
by Sharyn McCrumb
Book 1 of Elizabeth MacPherson
First of all, the only summary blurb I can find for this book is extremely misleading, in spite of the fact that it's mostly true. Because as you find out from the beginning of the book, Elizabeth does not actually "come early for support," and actually spends the first two pages of the book making fun of her cousin and her cousin's family in a letter to her brother.
This was a little off-putting since we learn that Eileen Chandler had been admitted into a mental care hospital not long ago in her life. The fact that Elizabeth spends even an ounce of time poking fun of that was quite tasteless and unnecessary. I'm not sure if this has to do with the time this book was written in 1984, but I didn't care for it. It was a bad first impression of the main heroine in this series.
Secondly, Elizabeth doesn't so much do the detecting, as let clues fall into her lap at intervals. In fact, there is a set of policeman in this book who probably have more book time than Elizabeth, and who actually do the detecting. This is a bit of a change from what I'm used to in cozy mysteries--at least the cozy mysteries I've read--wherein the police force is either missing, incompetent, or the asshat of a main male love interest. Instead, the two police detectives are definitely there to investigate and they kind of edge Elizabeth out of the book's limelight.
Then there's a twist in the end, pertaining to the murder investigation, that bugged me a lot because it didn't make sense, really.
Sick of Shadows wasn't a terrible book--it wasn't even a bad book, to be honest, and was actually written quite well. But the writing was really all that it had going for it. Well, all except for the part where the dialogue read like British instead of Southern U.S.A. I'm not sure if the perception was my fault since I'd been listening to an Agatha Christie mystery in audio book, narrated by Hugh Fraser, but aside from Aunt Amanda, I could not formulate a southern drawl for anyone else in the book. When I tried to "hear" the dialogue of any other character that way, it just slowly morphed into something more British.
I don't think I'd ever had that problem before with books that took place in the U.S. south.
But moving along...
Truth be told, the rest of the story was pretty flat. The characters were a little hard to grasp, and our main heroine--of whom the series is named for--doesn't really play much of a role in this book, as I've mentioned already. Instead, Elizabeth spends time doing the stereotypical feminine chores around the house to be helpful, interrogates people around her about future career prospects, and kind of just fades into the background. All of her cousins are described as eccentric, despite the fact that she describes them as crazy, and yet they come off as entirely too over-the-top, in my opinion. And you never really get to know them, any of them, well enough to care about their emotions or even their existence.
This is a pretty mediocre start to a cozy mystery series that, according to other reviewers, will pick up in the next book. So I'm not writing it off immediately, but I'm not going to hit up a store just to get a hold of the next book. I will wait patiently until my library picks up an e-book copy, or barring that possibility, I might give inter-library loan another go... another time from now.
I DO wish that Elizabeth had had more of a direction and some development to her character. As it is, she's really just another side character in a book full of side characters.
As I already mentioned, I'll give this series another spin some other time and hope that things are a little better outlined.
|Halloween Bingo 2018
(mystery, supernatural, suspense, or horror set in the Southern part of the United States)
Other Possible Squares: Genre: Suspense; Country House Mystery; Terror in a Small Town; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul