Two Mystery Novels, Reviewed

Two mystery novels that are the first in their series. Are they worth your time? Click through to find out. | Book reviews by

These two mystery novels have very little to do with each other, other than each is the first book in its series. I’ve heard good things about each of these mystery novels, so I wanted to see if they were worth the investment. And were they? Read on…

Still Life

“Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.” (Summary via

This book was not as amazing as I expected from its rave reviews. I’ve heard Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy recommend it several times, and since I frequently love her book picks, I thought I’d give it a try. But I didn’t find Still Life as wonderful as I expected.

For one thing, I disliked the plot thread about Agent Nichol. This new detective, working under Inspector Gamache, is constantly sticking her foot in her mouth, and not in a charming way. She’s offensive and arrogant, and she never redeemed herself. Maybe she’ll mature in the next book, but in this one she was immensely irritating. I was also annoyed with the constantly changing POV. We can read different characters’ thoughts within the same paragraph, which I found confusing. I’m still interested in reading the rest of the series, but I’m not totally sold on it yet.

Rating: Good but Forgettable


“Junior Bender is a Los Angeles burglar with a magic touch. Since he first started breaking into houses when he was fourteen years old, he’s never once been caught. But now, after twenty-two years of an exemplary career, Junior has been blackmailed by Trey Annunziato, one of the most powerful crime bosses in LA, into acting as a private investigator on the set of Trey’s porn movie venture, which someone keeps sabotaging.

Junior knows what that he should do — get the actress out and find her help — but doing the right thing will land him on the wrong side of LA’s scariest mob boss. With the help of his precocious twelve-year-old daughter, Rina, and his criminal sidekick, Louie the Lost (an ex-getaway driver), Junior has to figure out a miracle solution.” (Summary via

This book was surprisingly interesting; it has a great voice and great characters. Junior is easy to like–he’s funny, sweet, and laid back for a burglar. So when he finds himself being blackmailed by a powerful mob boss, torn between wanting to protect himself and his family and hoping to help a strung-out former child actress escape the exploitative porn movie that she’s been forced into, you have to feel for him.

The mystery itself is pretty great. It’s not so much a whodunit as an adventure/thriller with a lot of comedy thrown in. I’m definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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