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Clause of Death: 08/20/22

Clause of Death by Lorna Barrett

Clause of Death by Lorna Barrett and Cassandra Campbell (Narrator) is the sixteenth book in the Booktown mystery series. Tricia and Angelica have brought a lot of investment into Stoneham but now there's some strife among the other business owners. The feeling is that there's not enough effort to bring in more book themed stores. Then the most vocal opponent ends up murdered, his body found by a Dumpster.

This volume seems to be rehashing older themes and reintroducing older characters. It seems Tricia needs a potential love interest. If he's also there to thwart her sleuthing, all the better. In this case, Ian, who was the ship's security in Title Wave (2015).

Yes, Ian and Tricia had chemistry on the ship but here it feels forced. He can't seem to decide whether to be friendly or adversarial to her. I swear I nearly got literary whiplash from him.

The B plot involves the adult son of Pixie. We learn more about her past. The first problem is this long running is running into time dilation issues. Series time is seven years by Tricia's accounting. In publication years it's been fourteen years. So every book is roughly six months after the previous one but at the same time, it feels like Pixie's life is trying to take up more than those seven years.

More troubling though, is that the yet before mentioned son is there to be the sacrificial lamb. He's there to be fridged to teach Pixie a lesson. It's manipulative and melodramatic and completely unnecessary.

The C plot, as if one is needed, involves Mr. E being injured. He has a broken arm and is thus rendered pretty much useless at work. He becomes a frail old man and another source of added and unnecessary drama.

The D plot involves Jenny's second baby being due any minute. And she and Antonio and their daughter are moving into the new home being paid for by Angelica. Of all of the extra plots, this one is the most interesting and relevant.

Finally there's the mystery itself. It's pretty basic. By itself the novel would have come in at 1990s page lengths, maybe 250 pages instead of 336 pages (or 5 hours instead of 7 hours or so of audio). The resolution of the mystery ends up being one of those stupid ones where the murderer gets impatient and decides to attack the amateur sleuth for "reasons." Had the murderer done nothing, Tricia probably wouldn't have solved the mystery and Pixie's son wouldn't have been fridged.

Three stars

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