A Dark and Stormy Murder, by Julia Buckley

>> Wednesday, September 12, 2018

TITLE: A Dark and Stormy Murder
AUTHOR: Julia Buckley

PAGES: 304

SETTING: Contemporary US
TYPE: Cozy mystery
SERIES: Writer's Apprentice #1

An aspiring suspense novelist lands in the middle of a real crime, in the first in a captivating new series by the author of the Undercover Dish Mysteries.

Lena London's literary dreams are coming true—as long as she can avoid any real-life villains...

Camilla Graham’s bestselling suspense novels inspired Lena London to become a writer, so when she lands a job as Camilla’s new assistant, she can’t believe her luck. Not only will she help her idol craft an enchanting new mystery, she’ll get to live rent-free in Camilla’s gorgeous Victorian home in the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana.

But Lena’s fortune soon changes for the worse. First, she lands in the center of small town gossip for befriending the local recluse. Then, she stumbles across one thing that a Camilla Graham novel is never without—a dead body, found on her new boss’s lakefront property.

Now Lena must take a page out of one of Camilla’s books to hunt down clues in a real crime that seems to be connected to the novelist’s mysterious estate—before the killer writes them both out of the story for good...
A Dark and Stormy Murder was recommended as a book that would appeal to those of us who miss Mary Stewart's brand of romantic suspense. It turned out to be a bit of a misrecommendation. While the heroine herself is a huge fan of a writer whose books sound distinctly Mary Stewart-ish, the book itself was a very run-of-the-mill small town cozy mystery, and not particularly well-done, either.

Lena London can't believe her luck when her best friend's new knitting group buddy turns out to be Lena's idol, writer Camilla Graham. Even better: Camilla is looking for an assistant, and a suggestion that Lena would be perfect for that role has been well-received. Within a few days, Lena is driving to the small town of Blue Lake, Indiana, with a car loaded with all her possessions and her cat, Lestrade.

Camilla is as nice as Lena could have hoped and the job is great (her first task is to review Camilla's latest manuscript and provide her with some notes. Lena almost swoons at the thought). But although the town is as pretty and quaint as she had hoped, Lena is immediately brought face to face with its dark side, when someone is killed on the beach right outside the house. And not all is right with her next-door neighbour, either. Sam's wife disappeared a few months earlier and the entire town is convinced he is a killer.

This sounds like fun, doesn't it? I thought it did, and as I read and read, tried to convince myself it was as good as I was wishing it to be. It wasn't, though, and I ended up giving up at about the halfway point.

What was the problem? Well, Lena. Everything about her. First of all, she's way too much of a wish-fulfillment character. Her dream job lands on her lap without her having to do anything to get it (or particularly deserving it). Camilla is a dream, and decides to pay her an astronomical amount of money for something Lena would have done for free. Even more annoyingly, as soon as Lena arrives at Blue Lake every single man is simply smitten with her. It was tiresome. Mary Sue characters are.

I think I could have coped with that, but then, there's the fact that Lena is incredibly stupid. My favourite bit was when her friend is warning her about Sam and that he might be dangerous and she insists he's fine and the situation is really unfair and that he doesn't know where his wife is. Why is she so sure? Well, he told her he doesn't know where his wife is. I stopped reading after the scene when the police officer (another of her smitten suitors) has turned up to warn Sam the New York cops have found blood in his flat and he will be arrested. Lena is incensed! So incensed, in fact, that she throws nuts at the cop and his partner. Nuts!! What is she, a monkey? Seriously!

I couldn't cope with the idiocy.



Barb in Maryland 12 September 2018 at 03:09  

Well, thanks to you and SuperWendy, I know to avoid this book like the plague! And the premise sounded so good... Sigh

Rosario 12 September 2018 at 04:25  

Weird coincidence, isn't it? It feels like we're piling on! :)

And yeah, it did sound great. I haven't had the greatest experiences with cozy mysteries (other than Agatha Christie), though.

Wendy 14 September 2018 at 18:41  

Yeah, the throwing nuts scenes was SO bad. Especially since her belief that OF COURSE he's innocent comes out of left field with nothing to back it up. I don't know why I kept reading past that scene - maybe because I wanted the conclusion to the mystery? Or because I was coming off the heels of DNF'ing a historical romance? Who knows. I kept reading. You didn't miss much. And while I don't think Sam's missing wife is necessarily a cliff-hanger per se - the author leaves it hanging for (presumably) fodder for Book #2 which....I won't be reading. Because meh.

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