Monday, May 31, 2010

O' Artful Death

by Sarah Stewart Taylor

I have had this book on my shelf for years along with the 2nd book in the series featuring Sweeney St. George.  I've been biting the bullet when it comes to review copies only saying yes at the weakest of moments and only if the book sounds like it would be perfect for me. The results have been a return to blissful reading.  Blissful being defined as reading what I want when I want.

What I wanted when I picked this book off the shelf was a light, interesting cozy.  I was richly rewarded and as I read I felt that this series would join my favorite 5 or so cozy mysteries.  It's always nebulous picking favorites but among those would be Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, Jaqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs, Laurie King's  Mary Russell, Kathy Lynn Emerson's Lady Susanna Appleton, Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody and Anne Perry's William Monk series.

Sweeney looks nothing like a university professor with her unruly red curls and preference for vintage clothing.  Single and wary of relationships, she pours her energy into her college teaching and a passionate interest in cemetery art.  Cemetery art!  That's the part that piqued my interest.  Learning more about cemetery art was a fascinating part of the book but that was just an added bonus.

The mystery involved a macabre graveyard statue that may provide a clue to a hundred year old murder as well as some disturbing behavior in the present-day Byzantium, Vermont.

I look forward to reading book 2 in this series and meeting Sweeney again.  She's an interesting person with some very human foibles and some emotional baggage but also a good dose of determination and likability.  She has the potential to become one of my literary heroes. 

Lots of surprises in a well-told story, interesting characters, and good writing put this series comfortably tucked in with my other favorites.  There was one problem and it almost upset the whole feel I had for the book.  I was reading along and all of a sudden I was in the middle of a sex scene.  STOP!  What?!  I had to go back and reread the two paragraphs before to find what I missed leading up to this.  Talk about jumping into bed together!  I felt like the lead-up was almost non-existent.  When the couple of mildly explicit paragraphs were through I found myself totally baffled.  It was the worse case of  "throw it in to please somebody" I've ever read.  Mind you the scene itself wasn't particularly disturbing, though it was totally unnecessary, it was the jump - no transition in an otherwise well-written book.


Zibilee said...

How weird that the book just jumped into a sex scene out of the blue!! It sounds as though this might be a new series for you to love, which is great! I am reading Maise Dobbs right now with my book club, and though I am not much of a mystery reader, I am enjoying it quite a bit!

Anonymous said...

This one looks good. Well, except for the sex scene out of nowhere!

serendipity_viv said...

Apart from the sex scene, this really appeals to me!

Kristen M. said...

Well, I definitely have to try this one if you're putting it in such grand company! I hope I like it as well (although Sweeney St. George is a ridiculous name!).