Wednesday, April 6, 2016
The Big Brush-Off by Michael Murphy
The Big Brush-Off is billed as a "Jake and Laura mystery". It's also book four in the series, which explains how some things about the relationship between Jake and Laura felt like there was previous history the reader was expected to know. However, the plot itself can definitely stand alone.
Basically, Jake has had his latest manuscript rejected, and has to deliver a completely new, fantastic couple of first chapters before he can think about getting another contract. So, he and Laura (Hollywood star) head over to Hanover, a small town which holds an unsolved murder that Jake regrets. Despite telling himself that he's here to write a novel and attend a memorial service, he still ends up investigating the case.
This was a fun and easy read. The chapters pretty much flew by, and I finished this book in a day (probably because it's not very long - about 200 pages on my kindle). Jake and Laura are fun characters, and the town of Hanover is pleasingly complicated - there's the sheriff, who Jake remembers as a good law enforcement officer, but some have pegged as the murderer, and there were the three prime suspects, all of whom seemingly want him to solve the murder.
At one point in time, I even wondered if this was going to be a Murder of Roger Ackroyd scenario, with Jake as the real murder (hence the unsolved case). But, this wasn't the case.
Sadly, the denouement lacked a bit of punch. The actual arrest scene was exciting, but the way Jake realised who the murderer was lacked excitement. I think it's because Jake came to this mostly through a hunch, rather than by discovering any new evidence, or finding inconsistencies in something someone said. Perhaps I'm too used to the mysteries of Ace Attorney and Agatha Christie.
Overall, this was a fun read. Jake and Laura are a charming couple, and I loved reading their adventure. Plus, it's fun to have a writer as a character - I just wish I could churn out chapters like he did (and not just during NaNoWriMo)!
Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.