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September 18, 2020

Handbook for Homicide by Lorna Barrett ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

I tried out another new to me cozy mystery. I've had good luck picking up new series, even when starting in the middle, so I decided to give Handbook for Homicide a try.

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

Handbook for Homicide
July 2020; Berkley; 978-1984802750
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); cozy mystery

Handbook for Homicide
 is the 14th book in Lorna Barrett's Booktown Mystery series. I haven't read any books in this series but I don't think it is necessary. I was actually kind of surprised that it is book 14 as I felt like I was much earlier in the series. There were a lot of mentions of the character's backstories.

I struggled with the writing for the first few chapters. I wasn't sure if it just needed a bit more polish or if it was intentionally a lower reading level. As I was reading an ARC, and I do think there needs to be books for all reading levels, I tried to push through whatever about the writing was rubbing me wrong. 

However, there was a sentence in the third chapter that had me considering not finishing the book. The main character Tricia is described as almost spitting out the "mouthful of H2O" that was "bathing her gums." If I had been drinking water when I read that sentence, I probably would have sprayed it all over my Kindle. I couldn't believe something like that hadn't been caught by an earlier round of editing. As I was only 16% through the book, I decided to read for a bit more before I decided to put it down for good.

Thankfully, that poorly worded sentence is not indicative of the rest of the book. By about a third of the way through, I had also become comfortable with the writing style and looked forward to solving the mystery.

The town is a little too cute with all its Booked by named business. And what small town can support not one but 3 specialty bookshops (the mystery bookstore, the romance bookstore, and a comic bookstore)? I kept thinking of the movie I watched last winter A Christmas Movie Christmas where the town is a little too perfect to feel realistic.

I liked the main characters. I could see them growing on me. I really liked the focus on homelessness and how many military veterans find themselves homeless after being in the service. I think it would have been a great opportunity for a little PSA at the end of the book about how readers could help.

Overall, I don't think this will be a series I actively pursue in the future. But if I find I need something light to read and the digital library has the audiobooks, I would consider reading another book in the series.

Buy Handbook for Homicide at Amazon

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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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