Prose and Cons
3 journalers for this copy...
October in Cascade Springs means tourists are pouring in for the annual Food and Wine Festival, and Daisy hopes to draw those crowds to the store. She asks Violet and the local writing group, the Red Inkers, to give a reading of the works of Edgar Allan Poe in the shop’s back garden to entertain the revelers. Everyone eagerly agrees.
Yet their enthusiasm is soon extinguished when Violet discovers one of the writers dead during the event. After the shop magically tells Violet she’ll need to rely on Poe’s works to solve the murder, she enlists the help of her trusty tuxedo cat, Emerson, and the shop’s crow, Faulkner. But they must act fast before someone else’s heart beats nevermore...
Later: Well... there were a few Poe references - but most of them were in the form of the cringe-inducing repetition of "Poe-try Reading", which if pronounced as "PO-tree" is just wrong, and if pronounced as "PO-eh-tree" - yeah, like the regular word "poetry" - makes the "Poe" unrecognizable except in print. But the characters kept saying it to each other, and it was driving me nuts. "Nervous, very nervous I have been and am, but will you say that I am mad???"
Other Poe references: when one character gets a paper-cut from a copy of "Tell-tale Heart" and sheds a drop of blood on the page. That's all very colorful and dramatic, but of course our heroine Violet realizes it's an omen and agonizes about what to do. And does nothing. Even later, when she blames herself for not taking action, I had to wonder just what she *could* have done; "Hey there, that blood-drop's an omen of ill luck - you'd better be careful!" End of story?
I dunno, that's just one example of a missed opportunity. These oh-so-clever magical books never seem to provide really helpful information in a timely fashion (even less so when the supposedly-savvy Violet chooses to put off reading the self-selected book, for... reasons?), while a well-placed blood-drop could have been a very clear clue. But I guess there'd be no story if the books fixed everything; maybe they just like creating suspense, the little devils!
The running romantic-conflict subplot in which Violet can't decide whether to make a move on hunky cop David Raintree (who, we learn here, in addition to his other charming quirks, plays D&D - a trait I'd find attractive except that it doesn't seem to really go with the man as we know him so far, never mind with the town culture in general) or on hunky ex-flame and now town mayor Nathan. Indecision is fine, of course, but she frets over it so much, and gets all guilty when one spots her looking cozy with the other, that I'm out of all patience with her. (It doesn't help that Nathan, whose rather heel-like past makes him suspect, is the one who's been behaving in the most reasonable manner - using his words, being helpful, not pushing too hard... If he turns out to be a villain he's a master manipulator, and if he's just a guy who made some mistakes and is trying to do better, then he deserves more from Violet than unspoken equivocation. Use your words, people!)
Let's see. The Poe references - ah, yes. There are some tidbits regarding the Poe characters that people are dressing up as, but that doesn't really go anywhere. And the big clue following the murder has to do with "The Purloined Letter", Poe's classic proto-detective story, in which the vital evidence is concealed in plain sight among other similar documents - very clever. But Violet takes this to mean that the solution to the mystery is: "The criminal is hiding in plain sight! Someone you'd never expect!" And that's who it turns out to be, though if you consider how many other villagers were also someone we'd never expect to be the killer, it didn't seem all that helpful to me. And when Violet confronted the magically-revealed (to her) killer, she almost got several people killed, so there's that.
I shouldn't be bothered by all this; most of it is pretty standard in this genre, with clumsy and clueless amateur sleuths muddying the waters and getting in peril all the damned time. But there are these magical books, and cat, and raven, and tree, and spring - lots of fun in concept, but seriously under-used in the context of the story, with the choose-the-right-book-for-each-customer bit apparently ending with the transaction. Why can't the stories be about what happens after the recipients read the magically-chosen books? (I admit I'm thinking of something like Kingyo Used Books here. Now that's a magical bookshop...)
WILD RELEASE NOTES: