Title: Open for Murder (A Happy Camper Mystery #1)
Author: Mary Angela
Published on: 24 November 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
I usually do not rate a book 2 stars or below. Unfortunately, Open for Murder was not my kind of read.
Zo is the owner of Happy Camper gift shop. She’s excited to meet her childhood friend Beth. Beth and Zo haven’t seen each other for two decades and yet they are best of friends. (Zo thanks social media for making this possible.) Beth has inherited her aunt Lilly’s Spirit Canyon Lodge. The re-opening celebrations go as planned until the storm strikes and there’s a power cut. The next morning, one of the guests is found dead.
The victim, Edin, is the owner of a rival resort and spa. She had offered money to Beth the previous night, wanting to buy the lodge. This resulted in a tiff between Edin and Beth. The next morning, Edin is found dead – a coincidence or something else? The (incompetent) police is sure of Beth’s involvement in the murder. It is up to Zo to prove Beth’s innocence.
I will start with the best part of the story and then move to the unimpressive ones. The ending was really good. I did not see the twist coming. Although, the readers are hinted at something ‘fishy/secretive’, the identity of the murderer was a huge surprise.
I really do not care much about character development as long as the story is good. This book fell flat on both accounts. Also, the characters are not likable, not even Zo, our protagonist. The writing was way too plain and clunky. I think this book could do with some editing and polishing. It felt like I was being told explicitly of the characters emotions. Eg: Zo could not see his reaction as it was dark. Once they move closer to the gate (where it is bright), she might be able to.
Unrelated information are plenty in the story. Zo remembers dinosaur Sue incident. (Say What????) One of the town members had unearthed a very rare dinosaur and had kept it for themselves until the FBI came over and took charge. The townspeople weren’t happy about this. They had named the dinosaur Sue. This information did not have anything to do with the story nor was it funny.
Repetitive dialogs and beating around the bush are plenty. Zo is stubborn. She doubts one of the lodge’s guests and would go to any extent to prove them guilty. This includes saying it on their face – “I know you stole the money.” Is this called ‘being straight forward’ or ‘overconfidence’? Unfortunately for Zo, the person whom she had accused was innocent of the crime. It is not about the main character making a mistake. Overconfidence and childish behavior in a main character is not something I expected.
Overall, Open for Murder by Mary Angela was a disappointing read. Unlikable characters, plain and clunky writing, and an unimpressive try at quirky spoiled the read for me.
I received an ARC from Kensington Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.