Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reprise Review: Nine Feet Under by @MorganCTalbot

Genre: Mystery

Margarita and Bindi have big plans for the Fourth of July, involving borrowed bicycles, a geocaching power trail, live podcasts, and plenty of fun. But their day quickly goes awry when they stumble upon what looks like a murder in progress.

Strange rivalries and secret alliances test Margarita’s puzzle-solving skills, and Bindi suffers a rather painful setback when she comes face to face with someone she never thought she’d see again.

The overly stoic sheriff can’t be in two places at once, so the girls need to figure out whodunit and rescue the next potential victim before the explosive finale.”

Morgan C. Talbot is a fan of puzzles and enjoys geocaching as a hobby as well as many other outdoor activities. She lives with her family in Eastern Washington. This is her third book in this series and I just discovered she has written several books in a different genre using a different name.

This is the third book of Talbot’s Caching Out series and my favorite thus far. Trying to understand why it was my favorite I had an epiphany. Although varied in the specifics, they all have many of the same things. Margarita and her roommate, Bindi, who is a native of Australia, are the main characters. Their hobby of geocaching is part of the story in some way, although how much of the story and mystery involves this pastime is inconsistent. They always stumble onto an apparent murder victim and Margarita’s obsession with solving puzzles drives her to try and solve the crime. But none of that explains why this is my favorite.

One possibility is that instead of the main characters being Margarita and her sidekick, this time around Bindi took a more central role, seeming like less of a sidekick and more of an equal. I liked that, but don’t think that’s the answer. Finally I came to the conclusion that there were two reasons. One, just a touch of humor seemed to have crept into the writing that either wasn’t there before, or I maybe I didn’t notice it. One example is this description of Bindi’s former fiancé, who we’ve never met in person, but certainly heard about.

Garrick had been her knight in shining armor. She wouldn’t have cared if he’d had a harelip, a third eyeball, and a burning desire to enter politics.

Another example was a reference to the FSM (the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for the uninitiated). That’s a reference many wouldn’t get and relatively few would be as amused by it as I was.

I also concluded that with a series like this an author has a balancing act between formula and keeping things fresh. There is a certain formula that develops (same characters, similar situations, settings, and so on). That might not sound good, but to a point it is because the reader gets to “know” the characters and develop an affinity for them. Which is what I think has happened with me.

Buy now from:    Amazon US    Amazon UK

Although part of a series, each book stands alone and shouldn’t require reading prior books to understand and enjoy later books in the series.

Added for Reprise Review: Nine Feet Under was a nominee in the Mystery category for B&P 2014 Readers' Choice Awards. Original review ran October 7, 2013.

Format/Typo Issues:
No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five Stars

Reviewed by: BigAl

Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words

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