Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Yeah, well, they can't all be winners...
on 25 May 1999
Let me say this first: Kate Kingsbury is one of my favorite authors, and the Pennyfoot books are some of my favorite mysteries. Kingsbury outdoes herself with sympathetic characters, intriguing puzzles, and interesting period details...
...most of the time.
This book isn't *bad,* but it's not up to the standards of the rest of this excellent series. My main quibble is with the two main characters who seem to be doing everything in their power not to act like themselves. Cecily Sinclair, owner of the Pennyfoot and amateur sleuth, seems to have a positive death-wish at times as she consistently breaks this promise to her manager and sweetheart, Baxter: that if she undertakes a murder investigation, she will inform him of her doings. Does she? Of course not. And Baxter wants to share his life with this woman who, in this book at least, seems incapable of keeping such a simple promise? Well, it would seem to cast an aspersion on the wedding vows, for one thing. This is not the Cecily Sinclair I have come to know and love.
Baxter himself is another bone of contention--you'd think he'd be very upset about the breaking of said promise, but he hardly seems to care. Indeed, he hardly seems to have anything to say throughout the whole book. Baxter's character, throughout all the books, has consistently intrigued and challenged me, but here he's dull as dishwater. He livens up a bit at the end, but only when Cecily comes closer to death than ever before.
Which brings me to the good part. Like I said, the book isn't bad, I was just disappointed by the strange behavior of the protagonists. The mystery is intriguing, and packed with the kind of action that I've missed in some of the other Pennyfoot books. Also, we get more character perspectives than ever before: this time around, we hear much more frequently from side characters such as Gertie, Doris, Phoebe and Colonel Fortescue. (By the by, I can't *wait* to see what transpires between the latter two in the next--and final--book in the series.)
So yes, I would recommend you buy the boook, if only to keep abreast of the happenings of Badgers End (the sleepy Edwardian village that, relatively speaking, has a higher murder rate than Harlem). Don't expect the sparkle you can find in the other books--but it's still an entertaining ride.