Review: In The Dead of Winter

In The Dead of Winter
In The Dead of Winter by Nancy Mehl
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #22 for 2017
Follow the Clues: Trail 1, Clue 7
Personal Challenge: A book featuring a bookstore
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book with one of the four seasons in the title
Possible Book Bingo Square: A Book with a Female Heroine
PopSugar Challenge: The first book in a series you haven’t read before
Better World Books Challenge: A book by a female writer

This was labeled as Christian fiction, so my expectations were quite low. This might explain why it was rather better than I had expected. It’s definitely Christian-themed, but it’s not terribly obnoxious about it. For me, it almost counts as nostalgia, as it is more about the sense of church community and support, and Mehl’s portrait of a small-town congregation rings true.

The mystery story, not so much. I pegged the killer straight off, mostly because of the author’s obvious ‘tude about the character. Ivy (our amateur sleuth) was inconsistently written, too often veering into dingbat territory. And Amos (one of Ivy’s suitors and also oh-so-conveniently a sheriff’s deputy) followed police procedure that was just all over the place. But I suppose if he had been consistent in his investigation, he’d have solved it himself right away and this would be a really short book. I also felt like the puzzle’s sense of fair play for the reader was compromised, but I won’t say much about that because it’s a very spoilery discussion.

The primary characters weren’t bad, but the quirky and eccentric townsfolk felt contrived and tedious, especially when they were used to drive plot through lack of communication. It’s frustrating to me as a reader to sit there thinking, “Well, if these people would just, I dunno, TALK to each other, maybe they’d actually get somewhere with this.”

This isn’t a bad book, really, just very solidly mediocre. If you’re looking for a quick little Christian murder mystery with a rural Americana setting and a hint of romance but nothing graphic, you could do a whole lot worse.

View all my reviews

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