Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jenn's Review: The Cart Before The Corpse

Summary: Famous southern carriage-horse trainer Hiram Lackland, a handsome widower, dies mysteriously after retiring to a farm outside Mossy Creek. His estranged daughter, Merry Abbot, also a horse trainer, arrives to settle his estate. But Merry quickly plunges into bit-chomping dilemmas when her father's friend and landlord, mystery-novel maven Peggy Caldwell, insists he was murdered.

Before Merry can so much as snap a buggy rein, a handsome and annoying GBI investigator, Geoff Madison, is on her case. Then there's the troublesome donkey: Don Qui. Short for Don Quixote. And the fact that Hiram was teaching all of Mossy Creek's lonely women how to--ahem--drive his carriage.

Can Merry rein in the truth? What kind of horse play was her rakish dad involved in, and why would someone want to giddy-yup him into an early grave?

Stay tuned for the answers in this first episode of, "As the Carriage Wheel Turns."

Review: If you are a huge fan of Murder, She Wrote, this book is for you. Otherwise, this is brutal. This is the first time I've ever been able to say that I couldn't put it down because I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Where do I start? The writing was... floundering, at best ~and that's ignoring all the grammatical and punctuation errors in the uncorrected manuscript (this was an Advanced Reading Copy, so these things are to be overlooked). The character's are never developed and wander around the town (as well as the book) haplessly. I didn't find any of them compelling and didn't really give a damn about what happened to any of them, except perhaps the animals.

I realize that this is a spin off of a Mossy Creek series, but it is touted as a start to a new stand alone series. If this be the case, then there should at least be some development to the character of Merry, who is new to the town. However, there is no substance to what should be emotional and dramatic time for Merry. Peggy, who is portrayed as being the 'Jessica Fletcher' of Mossy Creek, suddenly becomes a capable stable hand and horse handler. Random relationships are thrown together for different characters at the end of the book with nothing to support them.

There are way too many plot devices, only a few of which are well managed. It meandered from scene to scene with no real sense of flow. It also didn't help that the narrative kept jumping voices each chapter making it seem even choppier. As for the horses, I like horses as much as any suburbanite girl, but there was a lot of technical jargon about carriages that bogged down an already lumbering story. As for the culprit, I won't spoil it for those who plan to prove me wrong, but I thought him/her quite incapable of the murder; it was rather ludicrous, actually.

Somewhere, there might have been a story in there, but it was buried by too many ideas and poor execution. I have never put down a book while reading it's climax (I'd rather be ridiculously late than be interrupted then), but I walked away from this for half a day right in the middle of the showdown between the protagonist and antagonist. Please don't waste your time.

Oh, and this was my first eBook. More on that to come...


Final take: 1.0/5

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