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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

April 24, 2018

The Advice Column Murders by Leslie Nagel ~ A Cozy Mystery Review

by Donna Huber

Last summer I went through a cozy mystery phase and binged a whole bunch of cozies. I feel the craving for quirky characters and fun mysteries again. So I was happy to find The Advice Column Murders on Netgalley. I haven't read the previous two books in the Oakwood Mystery series, but I know for most cozies that's not necessary.

Here's the first paragraph of the first chapter. Would you keep reading?
She felt like death warmed over.
Charley Carpenter stood in the pretty green and white bedroom at her home on Hawthorn Boulevard, her eyes closed as she willed the pain relievers she'd taken to start tackling her insomia-induced headache. Yet another night of tossing and turning had left her dry-eyed and exhausted. She was currently nursing a pounding head, stiff neck, and a sour mood.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Advice Column Murders
April 2018; Alibi; ebook (243 pages)
cozy mystery
The problem with reading several books back-to-back in the same genre is that you start comparing them. I think that is what happened with The Advice Column Murders. It was okay, but not really anything too memorable.

Maybe because I hadn't read the first two books in the series, but I found it difficult to connect to any of the characters. I thought Charley was whiny. It wasn't until the end when she stopped her whining that I thought I might be starting to like her. There is a large cast of characters but they all seem pretty thin as characters. I kept confusing Marc and Mitch.

The mystery was really good and I was still guessing who did it right up to the reveal. I was close to figuring it out but there was a twist at the end that I hadn't figured into it. Always a sign of a good mystery.

I'm a stickler for details in books. They make the story so much richer when done right. However, when the facts are wrong, it puts a damper on the book for me. I don't know if it was supposed to be a character trait or if the author didn't do her research.

Pretty early on in the story, we meet the Dr. Sharpe's aide, a Master Sergeant. Even though it is mentioned that she has been in the service 17 years, Charley and her friend make the assumption that she has given up promotions by following Dr. Sharpe around. But if you have watched many military shows or read many stories featuring the military, you would know that Master Sergeant is a top rank for an NCO. And because I was curious I did a quick Google search and discovered that it usually takes 17 years to reach the rank. Since there is a limit to the number of people who can hold the next two highest ranks, many have their years in without ever reaching one of the higher ranks.

Overall, it was a decent story. I don't know if the vintage clothing plays a bigger role in the other mysteries, or if it is supposed to add a bit of quirk to the main character (she owns a vintage clothing store). Yes, her store in under renovation during this story, but it would have added a bit to the book if her knowledge of vintage clothing had played into the mystery.

While I don't feel a burning desire to run out for the first two books, I would probably give another cozy mystery by Leslie Nagel a chance if I came across it.

Buy The Advice Column Murders at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.
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  1. Thanks for your honest review. Personally, I rarely pick up a cozy without reading the first book first, which makes for a better reading experience and less disappointment for me.

  2. I like starting with book one in a series too. I have also been reading a lot of cozies lately. I'm sorry this one didn't stand out for you. This week I am featuring Beyond the Pale by Clare O'Donohue. Happy reading!

  3. It's rather an interesting opener, and I do like cozies, but it doesn't really grab me. I agree with you about the importance of the details being correct - and especially in a mystery! Here's my Teaser/Intro for this week:

  4. I am a fan of starting from the beginning whenever possible. Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “SISTERS LIKE US”

  5. Well, as I read the opening paragraph I started thinking that I too have a headache. Just kidding! The writer does get the reader right in the story however.

  6. I like starting with book #1 too, but I do like the intro.

  7. I like starting with book one usually, but in cozies it isn't always necessary. When you think of the series that have 30 or so books it is almost impossible for a new reader to start with book 1. I've started a number of cozies in the middle of the series (I think I started with #26 in MC Beaton's Hammish Macbeth series).