Strange. This week I read two books that had watches as a key element of the plot. Of course, the books took place a hundred fifty years apart, and the first book’s main character would have been astonished at the concept of a digital watch without moving cogs and such. Still, I found the use of “wrist chronometers,” as the woman in the movie Guys and Dolls calls them, fun!
Even more fun was this romantic suspense novel.
Dead Man’s Watch has everything I love in a good mystery/suspense. This book has both. In fact, this book has one thing that few mysteries do.
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Dead Man’s Watch Did It. It Made Me Believe the Lie.
I’ve said it often, and I’ll probably say it again. I usually figure out the “whodunnit” in books pretty easily. All I need to make me consider a mystery a success is for me to doubt myself, make the “why” be something I didn’t see coming, or something like that.
So, when a book actually gets me to latch onto the wrong person as the culprit, well… It’s a TOTAL win.
And yeah. One red herring was so perfectly imperfect that I bought it as the real deal and was convinced that the true killer was the red herring. Oh, and the author, Kay DiBibanca did it without writing an overly complicated plot. She wrote a strong, multi-layered and faceted story, but she didn’t complicate things for their own sakes.
This book has a lot going for it.
Kathryn and CeCe have a fun and unique relationship that feels natural and makes you want to spend time with them. Phil and Ben are interesting people, and even Blake (the primary suspect) makes you care about him and his plight. I mean, there was a minute there when I decided that if he did murder the guy, well… I understood. Didn’t make it right, but I was glad I wouldn’t have to haul him in for it.
Add to that the unusual inclusion of a Messianic congregation, someone who actually enjoys running and considers it “fun” (and I believed her!), and just enough red herrings to keep me guessing and you have a solid book you do NOT want to put down.
Are there problems?
Sure. Let’s face it. Almost every book has some to someone! My biggest objection in this one kind of surprises me. Phil is a bit overbearing in his “demands” on Kathryn, but that didn’t bother me. People do that. Fear for another person can make any of us become downright smothering about things.
What bothered me most was how someone as independent as Kathryn accepted the intrusion (at this point in their relationship, I considered it an intrusion). Odd thing is, I’m not usually a big feminist or anything, but it just raised a few hackles I didn’t even know I had.
Additionally, Blake’s father-in-law and his “He couldn’t give my little girl all the stuff she deserved so she became a druggie” and “she could have married a lawyer or a doctor” were both weak and cliched. I’m sorry, but “lawyer or doctor” feels ripped out of the forties or fifties and just fell flat. Someone becoming a drug addict because her husband couldn’t give her a lavish lifestyle–that doesn’t hold water, either.
Did these problems kill my enjoyment of the story?
Nope. Not at all, actually. DiBianca made the characters in Dead Man’s Watch so realistic to me that I just got annoyed with them instead of their author. Well played, Ms. DiBianca. Well played.
Recommended for lovers of romantic suspense and for folks who like to see different pockets of the church explored in fiction. Thank you to the author/publisher for providing a review copy. I’ve not allowed that to influence my review.
Dead Man’s Watch is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Book: Dead Man’s Watch
Author: Kay DiBianca
Genre: Cozy mystery
Release date: September 2020
Half-sisters Kathryn Frasier and Cece Goldman stumble into another mystery in this second book in the Watch series. When a former acquaintance of Kathryn’s is accused of murder, she and Cece go on a mission to prove his innocence by finding the real killer. But things are never what they seem in this tangled web, and Kathryn’s spunky determination to solve the mystery pushes her closer and closer to a deadly climax.
Join the adventure as these two young women commit themselves to live up to the quote from the Jerusalem Talmud: “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.
About the Author
Kay DiBianca is a bestselling author who loves to create literary puzzles for her readers to solve. Her characters come to life as they struggle to solve mysteries and create relationships amidst the ongoing themes of faith and family. Her first novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, won an Illumination Award for General Fiction and an Eric Hoffer Award for Mystery. The second book in the Watch series, Dead Man’s Watch, was released in September 2020.
Kay is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. An avid runner, she can often be found at a nearby track, on the treadmill, or at a large park near her home. Her background in software development fuels her fascination with puzzles and mysteries, and her dedication to running helps supply the endurance and energy she needs to write about them!
Kay and her husband, Frank, live, run, and write in Memphis, Tennessee.
You can connect with Kay through her website at https://kaydibianca.com.
More from Kay
RUNNING AND WRITING
I’m a runner. Over the years I’ve discovered so many benefits from running, including improved health, good outlook, sense of well-being, and even a spark to creativity. That’s a lot to get from an investment in a pair of running shoes!
Of course, running is also a great metaphor for life. This one sport exemplifies so much that we experience in our lives: success, failure, injury, joy, and pain. So, it’s not surprising that although my books are not specifically about running, they contain running scenes.
I got the idea for my first mystery novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, while I was out running. The first chapter of that book introduces the main character, Kathryn Frasier, as she runs a five-miler while training for a marathon. Kathryn deals with the sorrow of her parents’ recent deaths by putting in hard miles on the trails around the fictional town of Bellevue. As I wrote that narrative, I could almost feel Kathryn’s effort, her struggle to maintain pace, the pain in the final sprint, and the satisfaction of finishing well.
The second book in the series, Dead Man’s Watch, takes place just a month or so after the first one.
Kathryn continues her training by running a half-marathon race. Once more I run with her as she experiences the elation of being in the lead pack (I’ve never been there!), the exhaustion as the miles build up (I do know about this), and a dramatic event as she nears the finish.
I hope readers will see the analogy between Kathryn’s experiences on the trails and her efforts to try to solve the mysteries in each story. I’m working on the third book in the series now. I haven’t written any running scenes yet, but I’m sure Kathryn’s going to insist on putting one in.
Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 18
Blogging With Carol, March 18
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 19
A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 20
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 21
Reviewingbooksplusmore, March 21
deb’s Book Review, March 22
Texas Book-aholic, March 24
Mary Hake, March 24
Inklings and notions, March 25
Older & Smarter?, March 26
The Write Escape, March 26
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 27
For Him and My Family, March 28
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 29
Pause for Tales, March 29
Locks, Hooks and Books, March 30
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 31
Bizwings Blog, March 31
To celebrate her tour, Kay is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.