3 out of 4 stars
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To Paint a Murder by E.J. Gandolfo is the first book in the Veronica Howard Vintage Mystery series. After a successful advertising career, Veronica realizes her dream of opening a vintage clothing shop. She accidentally gets drawn into the world of art theft after the robbery of a truck containing valuable paintings. Add in a few dead bodies, and Veronica’s nosy nature leads to some amateur sleuthing. The tension kicks up a notch, as it’s not clear who she should trust.
The story gets off to a slow start. There is an overabundance of description about every little thing - the furniture in Veronica’s Boston townhouse, the color of her nail polish, her boyfriend Harry’s wardrobe, etc. In contrast, there is hardly any dialogue in the early chapters. While the details paint a vivid picture, the excess causes the story to move at a snail’s pace for the first third of the book. Fortunately, the plot becomes more absorbing as the story progresses, with a few interesting twists.
The nuanced characterizations are what make this book shine. Veronica is a plucky protagonist with a layered backstory. Even when she takes risks that put her in danger, she is by no means a damsel in distress. Some of the supporting characters are written in such a way that it was difficult to figure out if they were good guys or bad guys. These gray shadings add depth to the story and make it harder to figure out “whodunit.”
While the writing sometimes has an easy flow, the author’s style is often exceptionally wordy. In addition, the characters’ backstories are too long. This causes the plot to veer off track and become less focused at times.
I am sorry to report that the editing is sloppy, to say the least. There are numerous errors through the story, and it sometimes felt like I was reading a draft. The mistakes include incorrect spacing before/after punctuation, extra punctuation, typos, words that should be capitalized (e.g. – the first word of a sentence), missing words, incorrect tenses, rectangular icons between words, etc. In general, the poor editing gives the book an unprofessional feel.
This book has earned 3 out of 4 stars. After a meandering start, I enjoyed the surprising turns the plot took along the way. However, the careless editing and wordy, overly descriptive writing style prevent me from awarding a higher rating. Still, Veronica is an engaging character, and I would be interested in reading future installments of this mystery series.
Note from Author: To Paint A Murder received the EVVY CIPA Award for best detective book of 2019.
To Paint A Murder
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