Monday, October 20, 2008

Capable of Murder by Brian Kavanagh

Typically, I really enjoy the English cozy. I nice country side with a dash of murder and mayhem. But this story tended to be a little, uh, dry. It also had an element in the story I'm not particularly fond of, which I'll explain later.

In this book, Belinda Lawrence receives a letter from her Great Aunt, who's name escapes me at the moment, it might be Jane, so I'll call her Jane from now on. Aunt Jane invites Belinda to visit because the aunt has a great secret to tell to Belinda. Only when Belinda arrives, she finds Aunt Jane took a tumble down the stairs. The police are quick to rule the death accidental, even though Aunt Jane had been living downstairs for the past few months due to her arthritis. Belinda insist something's off (wouldn't have a story if she didn't), but no one listens to her (typical). She finds out her aunt wasn't well-liked and that the aunt willed her house, property and 80,000 pounds (don't know what this is in American dollars). Belinda meets quite a cast of characters. There are her neighbors, Rosemary and her brother, Justin (I think), odious book owner, her lawyer, an antiques dealer, and the realtor, Marc. It seems they all had motive to murder Aunt Jane. Not only was she cantankerous, but she also had a secret. Then one day, Belinda arrives at home to find Rosemary dead in her kitchen. Belinda eventually discovers the secret and finds out who murdered Aunt Jane and Rosemary.

The ending actually had a twist, but the story line just sucked the interest out of me and I no longer cared who did it. I don't know why the book did that to me. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood or perhaps it was the element I'm so utterly not fond of. I do like to read mysteries which tend to revolve around a specific item, such as needlework, baking/cooking, books, etc. So it doesn't bother me when I see a lot of reference to authors, different types of needlework, or people discussing baking or cooking tips. This book revolved around gardens, except the main character wasn't an avid gardener, in fact, I don't really know how she felt about gardens and I don't know if she knew a pansy from a tulip. However, everyone around knew and obsessed over gardens, especially an obsession over this one gardener, Lancelot Brown. Justin is scary how much he loves gardens and his sister (I still wonder about their relationship). The lawyer sinks money into his garden. Everyone keeps talking about gardens. I was caught off guard about the gardens, because sometimes the blurb about the book mentions what it deals with. The murders take a backseat to *gasp* gardens. Of course, I admire nice gardens, but this book drove me over the edge. It wasn't just one person or a small group, everyone had a vested interest in this one particular garden. It hit without warning and turned me off. Of course, another off-putting point might have been Belinda herself, at times she seemed so devoid of emotion that I found it hard to connect with her. Perhaps it was because of the male author writing females the way he thinks they think and act. It usually doesn't bother me, but when they write some things over-the-top, I get a little miffed. I don't think I'll pick up this series anytime soon.
Capable of Murder
By: Brian Kavanagh
Amazon Price: $12.50


Amanda said...

So the gardens were the element that irritated you? I always find that when everyone in a book focuses on a specific element, it lends a sense of unreality. Like in The Eight, everyone over the course of several hundred years was obsessed in some way with this chess set, or about chess in general. It made chess out to be a bigger sport (can it be called a sport? I suppose that's up for debate) than it is in real life. And i understand the book was about chess and the Montglane set, but there should be SOME people in the world to whom chess doesn't matter. *I* don't care about chess, and I know many people who don't.

In Nine Lives to Murder, it was different, because all the characters were somehow involved in this theatre, so it made sense that they were all obsessed with theatre. But if it had touched on a ton of people not connected with the theatre and they all had some bizarre hankering passion for drama, I would have found it unrealistic. It sounds like this garden book is like that.

Christina said...

The garden element itself didn't start off irritating me, it was the fact that everyone was obsessed with a particular garden, then it got on my nerves. Such as what you mentioned with the chess set or chess. I fall into the category that I don't understand chess, never learned how to play it, so it doesn't interest me and when people start talking about my eyes glaze over. It is unrealistic when everyone likes that particular item or event. Years ago, I watched this karate movie (a desperate attempt at the Karate Kid) and every blasted person was interested in karate, even if they couldn't do it themselves. You want to shake one of the characters and ask "Don't you like anything else?"

Many of the mysteries I read usually revolve around a particular item, such as Monica Ferris's needlecraft series. The main character owns a needlepoint shop, so naturally the murders deal with needlepoint in some fashion, but the other characters have lives and the story doesn't have that unnatural obsession feel to it.

Unknown said...

Being a male myself, I'm curious - don't you think females go a bit 'over the top' when they write female characters sometimes, too?

Christina said...

Interesting point, Jason.

When women go "over the top" describing a female's action, shall we say, I'm usually suspicious that a male is writing under a female pseudonym. If I'm not suspicious of this fact, then I'm upset with the female author for trying to be cute or over-dramatic.

I have a pretty warped sense of humor. I make some odd puns, sometimes unintentional, and I do enjoy humorous stories. I also like elements of romance, but I am not a big fan of drama. I can't stand chick-flics, chick-lit, nor do I care for Hallmark movies. In some sense, I think of these as an over-extended fad and I don't like fads. If I do something someone might think is "fadish," it's to make fun of it or there's a small element of the fad I like and I'm grabbing onto it like a rat during the sinking of the Titanic.

As a female writer, I don't find it encouraging when other female writers write the female characters and their actions "over the top" and I typically don't read those authors again. The only exceptions I can think of is when it's a farce or a book from a period where women did were delicate flowers. I've dropped several books for being "over the top." There are many fine female authors who write from the feminine perspective, build strong, witty female characters without going overboard.

hamilcar barca said...

as someone who has played chess for almost half a century, i would say it is definitely not a sport, and the players are not athletes.

OTOH (and i admit this is biased), it is simply the best game you can ever hope to play. why? well, there is zero luck in it, it doesn't cost much money to play, and you can learn every rule and move there is in about 30 minutes.

further, it is enjoyable whether you make a serious study of it, or just push the pieces around. "Chess is a sea in which an elephant can bathe and a gnat can drink."

Anonymous said...

Christina, thanks for the review. Sorry you didn't enjoy it, but as you said, maybe it was the mood you were in. :-)

Amanda said...

Brian, thanks for stopping by! It's always so interesting when we have authors come by, and it always makes me more curious about their books. Unfortunately, I don't see any of yours in our library system. Is this book relatively new?

Anonymous said...

Hello Amanda, as my books are published by BeWrite Books, a small press publisher, the task of getting the books into libraries is difficult, as they tend to buy from distributors who go for the large publishers. However, it is possible to ask libraries to obtain books, which is a way of alerting them to books they sometimes never hear of.
CAPABLE OF MURDER is listed with Public Libraries, and that link could be passed on to your library. The three books are, CAPABLE OF MURDER, THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE, BLOODY HAM.
From BeWrite Books
and available from Amazon & B&N.