Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense

3 Reasons for Reading Satisfaction

I just finished Nipped in the Bud a cozy mystery by Susan Sleeman. The first of a series. I love a new series. They keep me coming back and I will definitely pick up Susan’s second book, Read Between the Tines.

This cozy didn’t come close to a “can’t-put-down” book, but it proved a lovely distraction. In analyzing this story, I found 3 main reasons that I enjoyed it.

Lightheartedness – This story does not take itself seriously. I mean the main character, whose mom was a librarian, is named Paige Turner. (And if you don’t like puns, don’t bother!) Each chapter begins with a clip from Paige’s Through the Garden Gate” radio show. Now I’m betting that one or two of those clips found inspiration in real callers to some program, but most of them became variations on a theme. I also enjoyed the way Paige Turner compares everyone to different types of plants. Insightful to the reader and the cleverness of the auther is downright inspiring to the writer in me!

Twists and Turns – Ms. Sleeman wove together a compelling mystery with several redirections, red-herrings included. Paige determines to fight all obstacles to learn who killed a “pillar” of her small community. Especially when she’s blamed for the murder. The fact that I suspected the murderer at the beginning annoyed me, but didn’t remove the delight of uncovering the fun paths that Paige’s journey took me on.

Quirks – Paige desires total control over every aspect of her life. No wonder she’s still single in her mid-thirties. She’s funny, honest, and flirtatious. In fact, Ms. Sleeman wrote Paige so carefully, that I could easily perceive her personality. But I didn’t like her very much. Headstrong and unwise, at times she behaved like an old woman. At others, like a child. She had school-girl reactions to a handsome stranger and made choices and decisions that weren’t just poor, they bordered on ridiculous. And I would hate to learn what type of plant she’d compare me to!

As to the comparison, though enlightening, for many of the characters it proved the only hint to their personality. Not even the hero was developed into a living person. Maybe the first-person point of view of the story hindered character development, but everyone seemed terribly shallow.

Also lacking depth was the spiritual aspect of the story. The author set up a great opportunity with Paige’s controlling personality, but all mentions of God and faith floated along the surface.

I think I’ve mentioned before how easily I cry, especially with a sincere moment of brokeness before God, whether in worship or reading a story. I longed for that moment in this book and it never came. Almost as though the spiritual aspect of the story was an after-thought.

♥♥♥1/2♥  All in all, I truly enjoyed Nipped in the Bud and look forward to the next segment of Paige’s life in Reading Between the Tines. And looking at Susan Sleeman’s website, I see several others that I’m going to read as well!

Your turn: Do you read mysteries or suspense? What elements must they have to capture your favor?

By the way, I have a whole page of books I’ve reviewed over the last year. Please stop by as you’ll likely find a gem!

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Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a homeschooling mom with teenage twins left in the nest. She spends her days transporting to and from volleyball, teaching writing classes at a local coop, and directing the children’s music program at her church. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

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