ARC Review: Brooklyn On Fire ll Intriguing mystery let down by expositions

18:52 Cilla P 0 Comments

Title: Brooklyn On Fire: A Mary Handley Mystery
Author: Lawrence H. Levy
Source: DRC from Blogging for Books
Synopsis: Brooklyn’s most witty and daring detective risks everything to solve a dangerous triple-murder case

After closing a case with the Brooklyn Police Department, Mary Handley is determined to become an official detective in her own right. And when Emily Worsham shows up at her new office— convinced her uncle John Worsham was murdered and desperate for answers—Mary’s second assignment begins.  

As she investigates the curious circumstances surrounding John’s death, Mary soon finds herself entangled in a high-stakes family scandal, a series of interconnected murders, political corruption, untrustworthy sources, and an unexpected romance with a central member of New York’s elite. 

Featuring historic figures like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, and the Vanderbilt family, Brooklyn on Fire takes Mary on a wild journey from New York City to North Carolina to uncover not only the truth of one man’s death, but to unravel the mystery in three murders – with links tied perilously close to her own personal world.

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Being the Nancy Drew fangirl that I am, I was intrigued by the premise of this book. A mystery involving triple homicides, set in 1890 Brooklyn, with an intelligent lady detective -  yes, yes, and yes. I was hopeful when I started this book, and while those hopes weren't crushed, I came away with mixed feelings. 

The best part about this book is the way the mystery plays out. It kicked off right away with a prologue that had me going 'Whaaaat?' and had several twists that truly caught me off-guard. I love the way the cast was all brought together; I was impatient at first with what seemed like a multitude of random characters, but they all play a part in the plot. I also enjoy how the story features famous historical figures and events; it feels very grounded in reality, which helps transport me to that time period. As a non-American with very little knowledge of New York's history, the historical figures are of little interest to me, but they are portrayed well enough that their presence didn't hinder my understanding of the story.

Also, it should be said that this is the second in the series, but the fact that I haven't read the first installment did not hurt my enjoyment of the book.

As for the leading lady, Mary Handley is a fun detective to follow. She's intelligent, keenly observant and headstrong, and I can't help but root for a woman pursuing her passion when the world says she shouldn't. I only wish the narrative and the characters around her didn't keep telling me how brilliant she is. 

''Sean had yet to get over the fact that he had a younger sister who was much brighter and more competent at many things which males, especially big brothers were supposed to shine. ... Though not as smart as Mary (few were)..." (pg 43)

The quote above is only one instance in which the narrative spells out what is already obvious about the characters. Another is a remark about an aspiring actress. ''She was at best deluded and quite possibly insane." (pg 62) This wasn't necessary given everything I've seen about this actress. Such explanations were my biggest problem with the book. I'd much rather be led to make my own conclusions about these people. 

The expositions also tend to be spoilers, weirdly enough. "That's when she knew that, not then but someday, she and this very gentle man were going to fall in love." (pg 69) I instantly lost interest in the development of the romance upon reading this line. A similar line also revealed that a character was going to be in danger in the future because of Mary. Sure, given the nature of the story, I already knew that was going to happen, but I don't want to be told in advance about it. 

All in all, I enjoyed this enough, but I could have liked it more. The mystery fan in me was satisfied, but my love for characters was not.

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. The publication date is 19th January 2016)


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