Monday, October 22, 2012

Peace, Love, and Murder (Nancy Holzner)

Overall: 4.7
  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 5/5
  • Believability: 4.2/5
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Purchase Links:
Hardcover US | UK
Other Links:
author website

It all starts with a simple traffic violation. Then they discover the body in the trunk. What follows is a desperate quest to clear the name of an innocent man, all of which seems to depend on gut instinct, a little army training, and sheer dumb luck. As the layers of illegal activity are revealed, it becomes exceedingly clear that Bo is in over his head.

My first response after finishing this book is that it was surprisingly wonderful. I wasn't in the mood for a murder mystery when I started it, but the story soon changed my mind. The characters were engaging, and I felt completely at ease in their (imaginary) company within the first few pages. The author took care to flesh out the main players on her stage, revealing moments of brilliance mixed in with instances highlighting their very human flaws. It helped me to connect with people like Trudy and Ryan in ways that I wouldn't have expected. Then again, what I was expecting was a slew of murder mystery stereotypes. This was one of those rare instances in which I was thrilled to be wrong.

As far as the mystery itself, the plot was well conceived. The author conducted her misdirection well, mixing in real clues with red herrings. One of my greatest pet peeves with murder mystery are illogical jumps in the would-be detectives' reasoning and plans of action. Bo's behaviors felt natural rather than forced, his thought processes believable and easy to follow. Some of his success fell upon serendipity rather than skill, but these events only required some light stretching of the imagination.

That brings us to the writing. Even in this plot-driven story, the tone and word choices made me feel as if I were inside of Bo Forrester's head. The pacing was, in a word, comfortable, and the dialogue was particularly well done. Within the span of a short conversation, I could get a feel for individual characters' personalities, even filtered through the mind of a biased storyteller whose freedom is on the line. You won't find much lyricism or poetic waxing here, but then, Bo isn't exactly the type.

Peace, Love, and Murder is one of those unexpected gems that one comes across every so often. There is much more that I could say in its favor, but in an effort to minimize spoilers, I will instead encourage readers to see for themselves.

(Review copy provided by the author)


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