Title: A Brush with Murder (A Paint by Murder Mystery #1)
Author: Bailee Abbott
Published on: 12 October 2021
Genre: Cozy Mystery
A Brush with Murder is the first book in Bailee Abbott’s A Paint by Murder Mystery series.
Chloe Abbington has left her job as a fine art painter in New York to start her new career as a painting-event business co-owner in her hometown Whisper Cove, Lake Chautauqua. Paint Your Shop is a painting-event business run by Chloe’s younger sister Izzie. Fiona Gimble is a columnist at Whisper Cove Gazette and has written negative reviews for most of Whisper Cove’s businesses, including Izzie’s yet-to-open paint shop.
The opening night of Paint Your Shop goes smoothly. Izzie came up with an urgent errand a day before the opening night and the responsibilities fell on Chloe. After the event, Chloe is about to close the store when she finds Fiona in the back alley – with a painting knife sticking out of her neck.
Chloe soon becomes the prime suspect. Meanwhile, her sister Izzie seems to have her hands full – with shop duties and, trying to keep her whereabouts on the night of murder a secret. Detective Hunter Barrett is in charge of the case and he does not make things easy for Chloe – not at least the beginning. But soon, Chloe learns something vital – Fiona was disliked by many but who would have hated her to kill her? It is up to Chloe to prove her innocence as well as try her hand at amateur sleuthing.
I am always on the look out for new cozy mysteries. Each year, Crooked Lane Books releases a handful of new cozy mysteries (debuts). This year, I have seen a lot of new and exciting cozy mysteries by Crooked Lane, two of which are based on a backstory of ‘a protagonist/main character leaving the hustle and bustle of New York to settle in a small town.’ While A Brush with Murder by Bailee Abbott is one while the other is Mango, Mambo and Murder by Raquel Reyes.
I really loved the idea of art + murder, after all I do a bit of oil-on-canvas in my free time. Unfortunately, A Brush with Murder did not live up to my expectations. The painting events are interesting, all right. But I wish these were explored in detail – or at least, a stolen art connected to the murder might have made the story interesting.
The two problems I had with this story were the characters and their dialogs. The main character (our protagonist) Chloe and her sister Izzie were a tad immature at times, and annoying too. The dialogs between the characters was a little hard to follow/understand.
Having said that, I liked the rest of the characters and their side stories – Sammy, Gwen, Theo and Ross to name a few. Speaking of Ross, he’s Chloe’s ex and makes an appearance soon after Chloe finds Fiona’s body. Ross wants to make amends and give their relationship another chance. Chloe broke up with him because he was ‘married to his job.’ Halfway through the story, we see Chloe and Ross hanging out together often and it finally ends with Chloe doubting herself – did she do the right thing by breaking up with him? I really do not like it when the main characters start second guessing themselves, especially when it comes to emotional matters. I wish Chloe had paid some attention to Detective Barrett instead – after all, the guy was crushing on her…
There’s a twist in the second half of the story and I did not see it coming. The identity of the perp was unexpected and shocking. I did not imagine them to be behind the brutal crime. We also have the case of a mispers (which happens soon after the murder) and this brought about an interesting angle to the murder mystery.
As much as I liked the plot and the story development, the characters and their dialogs did not make this an enjoyable read (not as much as I wanted it to.) Overall, A Brush with Murder by Bailee Abbott is an okay read.
I received an ARC from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.