Official Review: A Dream to Die For by Susan Z. Ritz

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inaramid
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Official Review: A Dream to Die For by Susan Z. Ritz

Post by inaramid »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "A Dream to Die For" by Susan Z. Ritz.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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A seemingly luckless woman is at the heart of Susan Ritz’s debut mystery, A Dream to Die For. Celeste Fortune (wryly referred to as “Miss Fortune”) just wants to get her life together. She wants nothing more to do with Larry Blatsky, her sleazebag of a therapist who’d kept her shackled to dream therapy for nearly four years. She wants out of Dreamland, Larry’s tightly knit (and increasingly cultish) community of clients who call themselves the Dreamers. She wants to get her fiancé, Jake Kelly, back.

But then Celeste has a strange dream: A woman stands in a kitchen while a sinister shadow creeps from behind and proceeds to strangle her. She turns to Larry for a possible interpretation, but he lashes out instead in rage and fear. Hours later, Larry is murdered in his office, and by some stroke of misfortune, it’s Celeste who finds the body. As her life devolves into a whirlwind of police interrogations, hostile encounters with grief-stricken Dreamers, and repeated attempts on her life, Celeste finds a welcome ally in Gloria Cross, an estranged friend who was once a Dreamer herself.

A perplexing crime, a rural setting, a cast of quirky characters, and a reluctant amateur sleuth are staples of the cozy mystery genre, and everything comes alive at the tip of Ritz’s pen. The puzzle of Larry’s death drives the plot forward, and Ritz cleverly roots the answer in the tangled web of the character’s relationships, both personal and professional, past and present. In any other location, several plot points may seem like too much of a coincidence, but the small town of Riverton Falls renders everything plausible, the claustrophobic atmosphere providing the perfect set-up for the mystery to unfold. Many characters of interest populate the town, several of whom are not exactly who they seem. It’s easy to empathize with Celeste’s confusion and frustration as even those closest to her — Jake and Gloria, for instance — know more than they’re letting on. The truth behind Larry’s fixation with dreams leads to a fascinating twist where the lines between mysticism and technology are blurred.

And yet well-executed as they are, A Dream to Die For is more than just the sum of these parts. Even as Ritz keeps the tone light and amusing, there are powerful messages that ring through the story. Celeste’s involvement with Larry and the Dreamers is a cautionary tale of sorts, and though the psychology is frightening, Ritz depicts cult behavior with neither judgment nor condemnation. Everyone here is flawed, especially Celeste herself, and Ritz allows the readers to make up their own minds about the characters — hero, villain, or otherwise. The theme of loving who you are is also a beautiful takeaway from the story. “We all have crazy reasons and rioting pathologies to struggle with,” Gloria tells Celeste. “We need to recognize them and love them as part of the bigger picture of who we are.”

I rate A Dream to Die For 3 out of 4 stars. Though there are no wasted moments in the narrative, Celeste’s story moves at a rather deliberate pace. There is some repetition of facts (e.g., how a character died), and there are minor typographical errors (e.g., missing quotation marks) scattered throughout the pages. Nevertheless, A Dream to Die For is a memorable mystery that avid whodunnit readers can sink their teeth into. Anyone interested in dream therapy will also find the book enlightening (Ritz really did her research well in this regard), and those who like empowered female characters will find many to root for in this story.

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Moderator's Note: The reviewer of this book read an ARC. Prior to publication, the book was edited to fix the minor typographical issues mentioned by the reviewer.
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A Dream to Die For
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Post by kandscreeley »

This sounds completely captivating. I love the protagonist's title - Miss Fortune. I'm curious about these Dreamers and how Celeste's dream "came true". It seems like one I'll have to put on my list. Thanks for the recommendation.
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Post by Nyambura Githui »

Intriguing story line. I'm curious to know more about the dreamer's cult. Wonderful review.

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Post by Stephanie Elizabeth »

This sounds so entertaining and scary. This dreamworld is troubling to hear about and I wonder if her dream had any connection with the the murder of the therapist? Thanks for the engaging review!

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Post by unamilagra »

This sounds like a riveting plot line. I always love when mysteries provide insight into psychology or something else so you come out more knowledgeable than when you went in, so I'm glad the author did her research into dream therapy. Great review!

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Post by phills »

A Dream to Die For" by Susan Z. Ritz
Actually am not really pleased with the content because from the topic and the narrative contents seems to differ to my own expectations
But I think the novel is interesting and nice the characters and the sequence is nothing to write home

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Post by kdstrack »

The idea of finding meaning in our dreams, and even therapists that interpret our dreams, intrigues many. I like how you describe how the author developed the characters in the story. Interesting review! Thanks.
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Post by Nisha Ward »

It's interesting that you called this amusing because I was kind of creeped out while reading the description. With that being said, dream interpretation and a small town makes this something I'm interested in reading. Thank you.
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Post by Helene_2008 »

I love a good murder mystery! And what an original idea to have a therapist with a cult following called the dreamers. Sounds like a plot along the lines of Gillian Flynn :)

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Post by Mbrooks2518 »

Seems like an interesting mystery. Great review!

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Post by inaramid »

kandscreeley wrote:
11 Jun 2019, 08:27
This sounds completely captivating. I love the protagonist's title - Miss Fortune. I'm curious about these Dreamers and how Celeste's dream "came true". It seems like one I'll have to put on my list. Thanks for the recommendation.
Great wordplay, for sure. Thanks for dropping by! :)

Stephanie Elizabeth wrote:
11 Jun 2019, 11:02
This sounds so entertaining and scary. This dreamworld is troubling to hear about and I wonder if her dream had any connection with the the murder of the therapist? Thanks for the engaging review!
Entertaining + Scary is a good way to put it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Post by inaramid »

unamilagra wrote:
11 Jun 2019, 15:12
This sounds like a riveting plot line. I always love when mysteries provide insight into psychology or something else so you come out more knowledgeable than when you went in, so I'm glad the author did her research into dream therapy. Great review!
It was a unique element, for sure, and the author used the information very well. All other aspects - the bartending work, lawyering in a small town, etc. - were also well-researched.

phills wrote:
11 Jun 2019, 15:25
A Dream to Die For" by Susan Z. Ritz
Actually am not really pleased with the content because from the topic and the narrative contents seems to differ to my own expectations
But I think the novel is interesting and nice the characters and the sequence is nothing to write home
Thanks for dropping by! The book did take an unexpected twist, didn't it? :)

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Post by inaramid »

kdstrack wrote:
11 Jun 2019, 17:29
The idea of finding meaning in our dreams, and even therapists that interpret our dreams, intrigues many. I like how you describe how the author developed the characters in the story. Interesting review! Thanks.
I think the depiction of dream therapy was quite accurate, and I give the author props for researching the details. Thanks for dropping by!

Nisha Ward wrote:
11 Jun 2019, 19:47
It's interesting that you called this amusing because I was kind of creeped out while reading the description. With that being said, dream interpretation and a small town makes this something I'm interested in reading. Thank you.
Thanks for commenting!

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Post by inaramid »

Helene_2008 wrote:
12 Jun 2019, 20:45
I love a good murder mystery! And what an original idea to have a therapist with a cult following called the dreamers. Sounds like a plot along the lines of Gillian Flynn :)
It is something I haven't read before. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by Kibetious »

This sounds interesting. I wonder what the dream had in connection with the murder. Thanks for the enthralling review.
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