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The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala
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To Kill a Mocking Girl: 08/12/20

To Kill a Mocking Girl

To Kill a Mocking Girl by Harper Kincaid is the start of the Bookbinding mystery series. Set in Vienna, Virginia, it follows Quinn Caine as she adjusts to life back home after working abroad for a decade. Her cousin is now a nun. Her high school bully is engaged to her ex-boyfriend. And then the bully ends up dead!

Like A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette (2020) and Bad Housekeeping (2017) by Maia Chance follows the new trend of the thirty-something protagonist heading home after life away from home has turned out as they had hoped it would. Thus the amateur sleuth has a support mechanism from the very get-go. I find this trend refreshing after a decade and a half of every series starting with a dead relative in a far away town.

The pacing of this debut volume seemed off. The first act is Quinn's return home as well as the murder. Interestingly, within the first couple of pages, a murder is mentioned that happened weeks before she moved home. Frankly I hoping the page two murder would be the murder for the book. Instead it ends up being a distraction for acts one and two.

The second act is the bulk of the investigation. As there wasn't much time spent introducing all the possible suspects and motives, as a reader there isn't much to go on. Instead we're completely reliant on what Quinn knows and where and how she decides to investigate. Again, with a brand new character in a brand new series, it's hard to recognize what will be good leads or to predict how the protagonist will go about her hunt for clues.

Thankfully things gel in the final act. I hope future books will follow the flow of clue finding, logical reasoning, and derring-do of the last hundred pages. It's on the strength of the closing act that I am hoping for a second book.

Three stars

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