A Deception Most Deadly is a cozy mystery novel set up in 19. century Florida.
The first few scenes were great, but everything goes down hill very fast and doesn’t go up until the very end. There are two main problems in the book, characters, and pacing.
Let’s first talk about characters. The main character is Cassie Gwynne, a young heiress from New York whose father was recently murdered and is now looking for her only living family, her estranged aunt Flora, who lives in Fernandina harbor. Cassie is fine. I don’t really have any problems with her. In the beginning of the story, she seems like interesting and funny character but soon after she gets swallowed by so many things in the book and the story loses all focus.
Aunt Flora was awfully annoying for me, both as a character and as a narration voice in the audio book. She is described as strange but kind perfume maker, animal lover and animal rights activist with large company of friends and animals and respected business owner. In reality, my impression of her was one of a whinny character without much agency in the story. We later find out about her tragic back story and how her mistakes led to the tragic accident and ruining of her family. Ever since then she is trying to redeem herself by kindness to others, but we don’t get to see much of that in the book. In short, I was not impressed by her and generally don’t like her.
In the first scene we also meet Hugh, a strongheaded police officer with whom Cassie enters into quarrel and everything leads you to think there will be some romance story developed there, but Hugh is not mentioned much until very end of the story and hints of a romance remain, I guess, for the next installment, which is missed opportunity in my opinion.
There are many, many more characters in the book, but honestly, I don’t remember much about any of them, and I didn’t really care. The similar thing happened with the plot.
We have a standard murder mystery. The local authorities want to frame Flora for it and Cassie is determined to find the real killer. The mystery part wasn’t intriguing for me. The main problem was the style. Descriptions are too overwhelming and detailed. It works in the beginning because we got familiar with the setting but later on it’s unnecessary and it keeps you away from the story. Every minor character is described in elaborate way, every scene, house, garden, road, everything. On so many pages nothing happens. For example, there is a dinner situation, bunch of random people are sitting in the living room, talking, like regular people does, but nothing contributes to the story, and it takes half the chapter. After a while I wasn’t interested in any part of the story anymore. It picks up close to the end but after all it’s not enough.
I’m going to give it 2,5/5 only because deep down there was a version of this book that could have worked.
I would like to thank NetGalley for a free audio book copy.
The second book A Plot Most Perilous will be published on April 1, 2022.