Monday, June 25, 2012

To Hell in a Handbasket by Beth Groundwater (ARC)

I'm getting to be a mystery addict (well, a cozy mystery addict anyway). After reading a lot of Lillian Jackson Braun (The Cat Who... mysteries), I saw this book relating to gift baskets. A gift basket mysetry. Makes me think of The Cat Who and Debbie Macomber already~

Although, giftbaskets don't make a very prominent appearance in the book.

This story follows Claire, who's on a family vacation at a ski hotel. But, at the start of their vacation, her daughter Judy's boyfriend's sister Stephanie dies. Or was killed. And it's to solve this question that Claire starts investigating. And the further she goes, the more dead bodies turn up. It looks like the danger is much greater than first expected.

Plot-wise, this story was decent. It's a very linear plot, so there's not much opportunity to figure out what's going on before Claire does. I think it's because the whole book is told through her perspective, the reader can only figure out things the same thing as her (which means we end up making the same mistakes in deduction too).

What really drew the book together would be the characters. Claire isn't a young attractive citizen-detective. She's a self-described "mama bear" who will do anything to protect her daugther. But yet, she has some really interesting friends, like the Leon crime lord (who may be my favourite character in the book. I'd like to read more about him) who help her gather information (even though she's somewhat of a pest to the local detective). In some way, it's not clear if her investigation helps or hinders the official one, seeing as she makes judgements based on what's best for her family rather than to find out the killer.

And like most stories, there were characters that annoyed me. Most notably, the daughter Judy. She's repeatedly described as stubborn/headstrong and while I'm like that, she just makes this virtue seem like a vice. Maybe it's because I'm not convinced of the love between her and her boyfriend, but she just seems like a disrespectful child to me. Maybe (ok, not maybe, I am) I'm conservative, but I don't think you should talk back to your mom like that and so often. But then again, most children do stuff like that, so I could understand (very little though...)

Altogether a pleasant read. If I see the first book in the series, I'd probably be tempted to buy it, since the few references to the first book make it seem interesting.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.


  1. Great review! I am not sure how I'd feel about the daughter. I can see why you'd be bothered by her attitude and always talking back. I think I would be too.

    1. Thank you! Sometimes, I wonder if I'm overly harsh on the characters.... :p but your comment cheered me up~



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