When teenage brothers J.T. and Dustin Rousseau decide to do something daring during their Christmas vacation, they think the most dangerous and exciting part will be driving their car across frozen Lake Champlain near their home in northern New York. They hope to attract the attention of a couple of local girls – maybe even make the news – with their actions, and this seems to be their big chance.
But they soon discover they are in over their heads when something seems “fishy” about an ice fishing tent and a lunchbox they find nearby. They know something is wrong when a figure in the distance comes running towards them, and a bullet hole is lodged in their car.
The incident takes on the proportions of a murder investigation when police discover a body out on the ice…and the boys go from innocently wanting to make a name for themselves, to becoming the prime suspects in the murder.
Their English teacher, Amelia Prentice, now Dickensen, since she’s just back from her honeymoon with new husband Gil, refuses to believe the boys are guilty of the crime, and sets out to solve the crime herself. But there are some distractions: her cat has gone missing, she’s had a fight with her longtime friend, and Amelia is not feeling well – queasy stomach one minute, ravenously hungry the next.
Death Dangles a Participle is the second in the series of cozy mysteries featuring Amelia, who in typical English teacher style blanches at the use of improper English, even while attempting to solve a murder, much to the delight of readers. Though it would have been nice to have read Book Number One (Irregardless of Murder) before reading this installment, it doesn’t seem to hamper the understanding of the story or the characters involved.
The book has all the requisite ingredients for the genre – homespun characters, small-town atmosphere, amateur detective who is really quite good, and a light dose of humor – but at times it lacks the drama or warmth some readers will have come to expect, if they are avid followers of cozies. It’s not that author Kennedy isn’t quite talented, because she is. And the story is intriguing. There is just something slightly missing, and it may keep the book from being a huge success. It might be that Kennedy has chosen to pursue too many subplots, with too little time spent on the murder investigation itself. It’s a pleasant enough read, though, and sadly, the book is dedicated to Kelsey Spann, the talented young woman who designed the book’s cover, a large part of its initial appeal.
Published simultaneously at http://www.bookpleasures.com.