Friday, January 13, 2012

Second India Hayes Mystery Falls Short For Me...
Murder in a Basket:

 An India Hayes Mystery 
  (Advance Proof)

By Amanda Flower

I don't think I've ever shared my main philosophical thoughts about a book I'm reviewing. Often I've seen individuals make statements about the story as conceived by the writer, sometimes even suggesting how it should have been written. This doesn't make sense to me because the creator is the only one that must decide what the message of that story is to be. So I may be disappointed with the ending, for instance,from time to time, but, in general, I can accept it and eliminate my personal disappointment in completing the review.

Only one rule for me can change that process--when something within the book as written, is illogical, given what has actually been published. Please note that this review is based upon the advance proof provided by the October and that I felt so strongly about the issue that I wrote both the author and editor at Cengage on November 1, 2011. Since I never received a response, I'm proceeding to publish my review of the Advance Proof that was originally provided.

"I received strange looks from students as I
scurried across campus, so I pulled my mobcap further
down, hoping to hide my fact. I scolded myself for
stopping at the library before going to the practice
football field where the festival would be held. As a
consequence, I had to parade my pioneer self in
front of the underclassmen, who probably thought
this was how librarians dressed every day...
I looked at the people around me and the vast
majority were wearing shirts...Where is their
pioneer garb?"
"I moved on to my booth, hoping the festival wouldn't
flop as it had in past years. If it did, my gingham
 humiliation would be in vain..."
I thoroughly enjoyed Maid of Murder (see my review!), the first novel in this cozy mystery series. Set on a college campus, it brought back memories of many visits to the various library facilities at the university where I worked for many years.

India Hayes is a college librarian and also a struggling artist. In this novel, the latter is spotlighted when she is talked into managing a face-painting booth at the local Founders' Day Festival, where she also exhibits her paintings. A problem for India is that her sister also talked college administrators to provide campus space for the Festival--placing her right in the midst of things when she discovers that a basket weaver, Tess Ross, as been murdered. Especially when she learns that Tess was the sister of her college provost!

Added to that is the fact that she is also mother of Derek, a young student who works in the library and has a crush on India. I thought this was a cute idea so I early started enjoying the interaction with this minor character, only to find he became much more important...

First a field scheduling conflict, then a dead body, with the added bonus that it directly affected her provost, and India knew she had to get involved in discovering who had killed Tess! This turned out to be even more of a problem when India discovers that Tess was the primary caretaker of a dog who has inherited $2M! And she is asked to take care of him until further arrangements can be made, which never seem to be completed.

With a wacky neighbor to help, her sister and family very much involved, while having to also be responsive to college administrators, India starts her own investigation much to the chagrin of Detective Rick Mains who, of course, wants her to stay out of it...but India really had no choice, especially when she had already agreed to investigate after Derek begged her to find out what happened!

The novel is humorous, but complex enough to keep readers working along with India, to discover exactly what happened! My concern for the story line logic comes only at the end. Up to that point, I was thoroughly enjoying this second book in the India Hayes Mystery Series...So, readers, on this one you'll have to decide for yourself. A fun, enjoyable book, but I couldn't get past the illogic of what finally happened... If you pick up on the issue that concerned me...write and let me know what you think. If you don't discover it, I hope you enjoyed the overall book as much as I did...

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