Sunday, October 11, 2009

Scone Cold Dead by Kaitlyn Dunnett

A fellow bibliophile gave me the most amazing birthday gift: a book-of-the-month from her local mystery book store. She told the store owner what type of books I enjoy and every month the owner picks out a book that she thinks will fit my interest. Is that the coolest gift ever, or what? A book chosen just for l'il ole me from an indie bookstore. But I digress...

The first book I received was Scone Cold Dead by Kaitlyn Dunnett - a new author to me. My only minor complaint is that it is the second book in a series. My mom has trained me to start books from the first in the series and there is a bit of back story I would have enjoyed reading. But that's a very minor sticky-wicket.

In Scone Cold Dead, Liss, the main character is a retired Scottish dancer. When her troupe comes to town trouble arises due to the death of the troupe's manager - inhalation of mushrooms. Wanting to keep her friends free of suspicion, Liss begins to investigate the death and solve the murder. The location of the book in Moosetookalook, Maine is a fun setting. The plot revolving around a traveling dance troupe is also different enough to feel novel. I liked hearing about a world that is unfamiliar to me. The actual plot was not particular difficult to unravel. The murderer gives him/herself away pretty early in the story. It is not something I probably would have thought to buy for myself. But, I enjoyed it and was glad to be introduced to a new author.

However, I have a beef - and this probably comes out of my own desire to write and maybe eventually get published. The old adage is "write what you know," but we can't all know everything. Does a woman really know what it feels like to be a man? No. But that doesn't mean she doesn't include male characters. So where is the fine line between writing what we haven't personally experienced and just writing inconsistent characters?

I would bet a small sum of money that Kaitlyn Dunnett does not have children and is (by default) not a mother. Why? The one child in her book is poorly fleshed out. The age really did not ring true based on her actions. At times she acts much older than her age but then there are moments than she acts much younger - in unrealistic ways. And no mother would ever (I would hope) act like the mother in the novel. I cannot imagine a single mother willingly running out the door at the drop of a hat repeatedly to help her friend and leave her toddler son behind. I can appreciate the concept of suspension of disbelief in novels. After all, no one chases down murderers and solves crime willy-nilly in the middle of their day job. But I do want my characters to be believable in their interpersonal interactions. And, although they were side characters, these two figures leapt out at me for their inconsistency and unrealistic actions.

The character flaws are not a sufficient reason to avoid this book. They are more the other side of my brain reading the novel like a critic rather than an avid book-lover.

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