It’s not uncommon that I start a cozy mystery novel somewhere near the middle of the series. I can only think of three series where I started with book one (Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass, Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox, and the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss). And honestly, I’ve never had a problem starting in the middle of a cozy mystery series; the books tend stand up by themselves, although if a book is particularly intriguing, I tend to read other books in the series, like the Ghost Hunter Mystery series by Victoria Laurie. But I’ve gotta tell ya…I really struggled with the Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio.
Released: August 2016
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Reading the gothic classic Rebecca already has the Readaholics spooked, and the chills only get worse when someone in town actually gives up the ghost….
Amy-Faye Johnson has her hands full coordinating the Celebration of Gothic Novels in Heaven, Colorado. The festivities start off smoothly, but the weekend is soon cursed with large egos, old resentments, and uninvited guests. Matters become truly grave when a dead body is found at the gothic-themed costume party.
The out-of-town authors claim not to know the victim, but Amy-Faye has doubts. With skeletons turning up in all of the suspects’ closets, Amy-Faye and the Readaholics must tap into their knowledge of gothic literature to find a killer who lurks in the shadows…
Expectations did not meet reality
The summary put a lot of emphasis on not only the Gothic Gala but also on the book club that main character, Amy-Faye, participated in, yet the Gothic Gala concluded by the third chapter (roughly), and Amy-Faye only met with her reading group twice in 300+ pages. I…was kind of disappointed. I mean, part of me understands that a crime could not take place and be solved during the course of a charity event, but a girl can dream, right?
There were a lot of characters
And I mean A LOT. Considering I usually start mid-series with cozies, I still do not struggle with keeping all of the characters in line. But, that was not the case with the Readaholics and the Gothic Gala. Not only does it appear that the usual cast of characters is pretty large (the reading group + Amy-Fayes employees + the entire town of Heaven, Colorado), but all of the additional, out-of-town characters at the partie(s) are quite large too, so it was hard to keep track of everyone.
The ending really caught me by surprise
But not in a good way. Mostly because I couldn’t remember which character was which, so when the murderer was revealed, I found myself flipping to the beginning of the book for reminders. Also, I don’t think enough clues were revealed throughout the course of the novel about the victim’s identity. The motivation really caught me by surprise, but again…not in a good way.
Overall, I’m kind of let down, and when I try to think of how to sum up my feelings about this story, all I can conjure up is a shoulder shrug. The storytelling in this particular novel was not up to par, and honestly it discourages me from exploring other books in this series. That being said, I can tell Laura DiSilverio is a wonderful writer, and I am curious about her other series.