3.5 stars rounded up. This review is also available on my blog, Read Till Dawn.
First, just so you know, this is the third book in the Hidden Springs Mystery series. I have not read the first two, so I have no idea what details in this book count as spoilers for them. I’ll be reviewing it more or less as though it was a stand-alone.
Though I have to say, starting with Murder is No Accident definitely did feel like I was stepping into the middle of something. Most of the characters are given introductions, so I didn’t have to constantly guess about who everyone was, but I think I was supposed to already be attached to the characters at the start of the book. I couldn’t have cared less about the main character Michael in the beginning of the book, and even though I grew to like him by the end (how could I not, with his love for kids and his tragic back-story?), I still found myself skimming the pages about his personal problems in the second half of the book. What can I say? I wanted to know what was happening with the mystery! And I really didn’t care about his personal life that much. There’s a fair amount of romance drama between Michael and his girlfriend, and I just couldn’t convince myself to feel any anxiety about the relationship between two people who, to be perfectly honest, I did think should just break up and continue in their completely different lives.
To be fair, though, what interest I lacked for Michael and his girlfriend was more than made up for by my interest in Maggie and her boyfriend. It was so cute watching her grow increasingly connected with Anthony, who seems like a really sweet boy. I also just liked Maggie in general, because she seemed like a really nice person whose life was constantly on the verge of catastrophe. The family dynamics, especially with her younger brother and laid-off father, were very well done and I enjoyed them. Basically, Maggie and everything directly connected to her were the biggest things that I loved about the book.
Since this is a murder mystery, I suppose I should talk about the mystery itself. I can’t really say much about it without spoilers, obviously, so I’ll try to tread carefully. I’ve read tons of murder mysteries over the years, beginning when I was just nine years old with Murder on the Orient Express, but the number of non-Agatha Christie murder mystery novels I’ve read can be added up on just one hand. This one is definitely the best of those by far–more engaging, with a wonderfully character-driven plot–but it still doesn’t even approach the genius of Christie’s mysteries. I didn’t guess the murderer, per se, but I definitely wasn’t surprised by the end reveal. I was a little bored by it, honestly, but I can’t say why because that would be a massive spoiler.
All in all, though, this is still the best murder mystery book I’ve ever read by anyone whose last name wasn’t “Christie,” so that’s a win in my book. Also, to any other murder mystery fans out there: can you recommend some new names to me? Murder is No Accident has gotten me in the mood for the genre again!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.