Nancy Drew. Although her books usually focused on finding something stolen, finding something before it was stolen, or some other petty crime rather than murder, from those books I learned the joy of solving crimes—all from the comfort and safety of my own chair.
In time, I stepped up the reading to more deadly crimes such as Sherlock, Miss Marple, Poirot, Inspector Allyn, and Father Brown might encounter.
Sometimes people ask me why I would read about something so unsavory as murder. At first, I found it difficult to answer. However, I learned a lot from those murder mysteries, and now I know.
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3 Terrific Reasons to Read about Murder
- They teach you to observe. I may never need to notice that the wine spilled on a sleeve cuff isn’t what it seems (name that book!), but my learning to be observant might show me that a friend is upset when no one else can see it.
- You learn how to follow clues and logical progressions to make reasonable deductions that then lead you to prove the theories that stem from those. It’s a mind puzzle—something to keep those “little gray cells” healthy and sharp.
- They reinforce a value for human life. Often the victim is a horrible person whom many people disliked and had motive to kill. But a good mystery reminds us that this sort of “vigilante justice” is wrong. People may forfeit their right to life with the crimes they commit, but we do not get to be judge, jury, and executioner as they say. Mysteries show that sense of justice that we crave as humans while still reminding Christians that the “bad guy” is still someone Jesus died for.
This is one of the lessons in a book I just read, Murder of Convenience.
One thing the protagonist, Geneva, says repeatedly is that although the victim was a terrible person, “he didn’t deserve to die.” While I disagree with her statement (without the blood of Christ atoning for our sins and making us worthy, we all deserve to die), I respect the emphasis on valuing life that the author showed.
The best part of Murder of Convenience is the mystery itself. I had my suspicions as the plot unfolded, and when all the principal parties were laid out, I figured out who, but not some of the whats. Ms. Matchett knows how to construct a mystery with excellent clues and red herrings as well as intriguing twists.
I wish I could say I loved the rest of the book—or even that I liked it. Had the mystery element itself not been so good, I wouldn’t even consider it “okay.”
Look, I’m going to be a forthright here.
When the book arrived, my heart sank. The cover didn’t do anything to pique my curiosity, and the back cover and copy were even less interesting. Just a glance at the interior did make me suspect that I’d been sent a proof copy. The margins are odd, the chapter headings are exactly the same as regular text, and section separators shift from an asterisk to dual pound signs, and then two asterisks—without any idea of why.
Again, I thought it must be a proof copy, and I expected to start out my review saying that if I saw it on a bookstore shelf I’d never pick it up and turn it around to read the back. I also expected to say that if I found the description somewhere, again, it wouldn’t capture me… but the book was amazing! The cover didn’t do it justice!
I so wish I could say that.
Unfortunately, the writing was only “okay,” and in parts not so okay. Certain inconsistencies that don’t make sense jarred me from the story at odd times. I’ll admit that I do wish I hadn’t requested a review copy because everything I want to say about it feels unkind. I won’t do it. So this is what I will say.
Although Ms. Matchett did craft an excellent mystery for her readers to follow, the rest of the book doesn’t live up to that potential. I can’t recommend Murder of Convenience except to people who love a well-crafted mystery and who aren’t particular about that mystery’s presentation. Without that mystery, this review would have ended up with one less star.
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