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Sunday, July 23, 2006

** War and Peas by Jill Churchill. Mystery.

This book is one of the reasons why I didn't read as much on vacation as I might have. It's a short book, only 250 pages, but it was far too easy to put down and not tempting enough to pick up again. It took me over two days to read it.

The title is awfully clever and cute, referring to the setting of the mystery: a pea museum and Civil War reenactment.

I suspect I'd have liked the book more if I'd read more than just one other book in the series--if I'd already known the cast of characters and looked forward to spending time with them again. Unfortunately, the characters weren't developed enough in this particular volume of the series to make me care about them.

The story did have potential--the pea museum's director is murdered during a Civil War reenactment, in front of scores of witnesses, none of whom saw anything suspicious.

But the solving of the mystery consisted of Jane Jeffry, the series protagonist, periodically speculating with other characters about who might have killed her and why. There's no gathering of clues, no gradual unfolding of the plot. The solution, when it's presented, comes completely out of left field with no foreshadowing, the motive not even so much as hinted at throughout the story.

And there was zero reason given for the bizarre method of the second murder, which was the last straw. Not that I'd intended to seek out more books in this series before that, but at that point, I wasn't just disappointed, I was mad.


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