Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: "Designed for Death" by Jean Harrington

Some well-worn clichés dot Designed for Death by Jean Harrington, but so does a well-knitted plot that delves deeper than most cozies into the character of its protagonist, Deva Dunne. I openly admit I like a bit more meat to my mysteries, but I do like a nice cozy once in a while so I can stop having nightmares, smile a bit, and watch in amazement how mysterious our lives must seem to those who don't know us well.

When Deva finds the murdered body of a new tenant at her condo unit in Naples, Florida, all the secrets about her neighbors come pouring out as well as the obligatory dropping of hints about the murder along with the foreshadowing of the approaching hurricane. Hey, it's Florida! It's going to have one. I admit upfront, the author did fool me for 83% of the book about who the murderer was. That's good. I like an author who can slap me across the cheeks with red herrings without the plot smelling like rotting fish. The usual 'I can't believe she's going to do that' moments in the story happened, but that's how cozy mysteries move the plot. The lead character is Lucille (LucyEsmeralda McGillicuddy Ricardo nosy, even when she doesn't intend to be.

I like the fact that the various quirky characters had some real life problems, financial issues, and personal struggles that made them seem a bit more human. But I don't by some of the physical characterizations. They were hard to accept or visualize at times. The author has even set us up for a series, which looks like a winner. This is a high-end "4"; cozy aficionados might even give it a high "5".

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