Title: On Borrowed Crime (Jane Doe Book Club Mystery #1)
Author: Kate Young
Published on: 6 October 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
On Borrowed Crime is the first book in Jane Doe Book Club Mystery series by Kate Young.
Lyla Moody works as a receptionist for her uncle Calvin’s PI agency in Sweet Mountain, Georgia. Lyla’s overly controlling mother wants her to settle down and have a couple of babies but Lyla has other plans.
Lyla reaches home one evening to find a suitcase at her doorstep. Thinking it to be her friend Mel’s lost luggage, she drags it in. The next day Mel returns and says it is not her luggage and there seems to be something rotting in the suitcase. They open it to find one of the Jane Doe Book Club members stuffed – dead.
Having read Kate Young’s Marygene Brown series, I kept my expectations high on this one. Sadly, On Borrowed Crime did not live up to my expectations.
As a series debut, I expected the story to start on a slow note – you know, get along with the character introductions first and then proceed to solving the mystery. Frankly, the characters are annoying. Lyla’s dad is a shrink and her mum is bossy and controlling. I wonder why Lyla’s dad did nothing about his wife’s toxic and controlling nature. The only person in Lyla’s family who seems to understand her well is her gran.
There are a whole lot of characters in the story. Carol, the victim, had a tiff with her stepbrother. Over an inheritance issue, he’s manhandled her; meanwhile, her husband ( a judge) insulted her at a party. I don’t understand why women in this story are portrayed as powerless human beings. It’s not just that, one of the book club members offends Lyla and Lyla’s cool about it.
Speaking of book club members, the group meets often. The group is chatty enough and they all have their opinions about Carol’s murder. At times, I was lost. It’s like a fish market scenario – everybody is talking and you do not know who said what.
At times, this didn’t feel like a mystery. Emotions all over the place, people are busy spewing venom or gossiping, banter and petty fights, I was lost. Completely lost! This was a disappointing read for me.
The story had a lot of potential. A murder linked to a series of Jane Does found on Highway I-85, this is an excellent plot. However, trying to fit in too many things in a story, that too in a series debut, ruined the fun.
Thank you for this review! I was similarly lost and couldn’t deal with the weird overpowering southern sensibilities. Happy to see someone else was also disappointed, given how many positive reviews this book ended up getting.
At times, I felt I was ‘reading’ a telenovela. Too much drama and frankly, Lyla should be setting some boundaries. Letting people walk over her is a huge no, especially for a main character in the series.
I liked Kate Young’s Marygene series but I do not think I would follow this one.
I can get on with unlikable characters, but there has to be some exploration of why they behave in such opposition to society’s standards of kind behavior. I haven’t read many cozy mysteries, but it seems like that’s the genre where I encounter the most deplorable characters without a lick of reason behind their terrible attitudes!
I set up a limit when it comes to annoying characters. There are some things which are a huge no. Like, in one of the mysteries I read, the guy us always fondling his wife – and she hates it. But she does nothing about it because he’s rich. I was like, ugh! Stories like these sets a bad example.
In Borrowed Crime, I didn’t mind the protagonist’s mum’s banter – yes, it was annoying but tolerable. What irritated me was the protagonist not setting boundaries.
The older I get, the more I look for characters that set boundaries. It’s great that you noticed this! I’m a firm believer that the reason dating is so hard in 2020 is no one has any boundaries or clear objectives when they set out.