“A Most Curious Murder” by Mancelona MI author Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli (Crooked Lane, $25.99) is a bizarre cozy mystery overflowing with odd, quirky characters.
It’s one of those books aimed at a very specific audience that’s likely to disappoint many other readers.
This is a debut novel in a new "Little Library Mystery" series that’s set in the small town of Bear Lake MI.
It stars Jenny Weston, who’s frustrated after a nasty divorce; she’s moved back from Chicago to recover. She’s recuperating at the house she grew up in, staying with her mother Dora.
All sorts of things seem to go wrong after Jenny arrives – earlier, her mother’s beloved little lending library was destroyed outside their home - the books were ruined.
Jenny meets a strange new neighbor, Zoe Zola, her mother’s friend, an outspoken “little person” worried about the situation.
Zoe is a successful writer working on a book about Lewis Carroll and his most famous creation, "Alice in Wonderland”.
Jenny and Zoe decide to do their own investigating – they suspect the culprit is Adam Cane, a cranky, reclusive neighbor from a wealthy family.
Their work becomes considerably more challenging when Adam is discovered murdered in Zoe’s fairy garden.
The town’s police chief, who went to school with Jenny, believes Zoe did it.
Jenny is joined by Tony, a handsome carpenter who’s an ex-cop; more investigation turns up few clues and another dead body.
Zoe’s held for questioning, a lawyer gets involved and other complications muddle the case.
Jenny’s womanizing, alcoholic ex-boyfriend, who’s got many personal problems, is also a suspect; Jenny doesn’t have fond memories of their abrupt earlier break-up years earlier.
While the book is entertaining at times, Zoe’s dialogue is very confusing – even if you’re an “Alice” fan. There’s a touch of romance, but lots of anxiety and little humor.
Most characters aren’t particularly likable – after a while, I just didn’t really care who destroyed the lending library or committed the murders.
After a few hundred pages, I started peeking to see how much more I still had to read – never a good sign.
Buzzelli has written eight other novels, including three using the pseudonym of Elizabeth Lee.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime
novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987. One of his favorite books
is Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.
Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan
This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on July 24, 2016.