Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Roots of Murder" by Janis Harrison

Janis Harrison's first book (1999) "Roots of Murder" is a typical cozy. Suspects grow like weeds and topics are cast across the pages like so many seeds. That is part of the problem. Though the characters are unique, they rush past you like leaves on a windy day, not always easily identifiable. I spent too much time trying to keep all the characters straight. Once I did have them straight, I thought I knew the murderer just past the midpoint. I was sure of it before the potentially interesting protagonist, Bretta Soloman. She is a recently widowed owner of a florist shop who just lost 100 pounds and can't help branch out into other people's business especially after an Amish friend is murdered. More depth into the copious topics raised and a less hurried pace to character introduction would have helped. For me, it is a three. For lovers of cozies, its real audience, it would harvest a four.


Note: The problem of too many characters in the opening plagues me also. Need to learn my lessons by what I feel is the problem here.

3 comments:

Lorraine_Bartlett said...

I was told that I had "too many characters in the first chapter" of my latest cozy. But if your murder takes place in chapter one, you have to establish a pool of suspects. Haven't yet heard from my editor, so I don't know if this is going to be a problem.

Rick Bylina said...

Maybe a pool of characters is okay, but I must have an Olympic size pool on occassion.

I guess the trick is to have the killer so unassuming sliding into the pool early on that the reader has to deal with all the other fish splashing around.

Some day I'll figure it out.

Austin Carr said...

Like everything else, give it to the reader slowly, in pieces, not in chunks. Make them wonder...