The First Paint by Murder Mystery
Chloe Abbington left a boyfriend and an unsuccessful life as an artist in New York City to return to her hometown in Western New York. Living with her parents and sister she's agreed to help her sister's new painting event business. Life on scenic Chautauqua Lake isn't a peaceful idyll, however. Fiona, a newcomer to town, is working as a reporter and dispensing bad reviews and nastiness with aplomb. After Paint with a View's soft opening Chloe finds Fiona's body with a palette knife in her neck. With a sister keeping secrets, a town full of shopkeepers with motive, and her ex come to visit, Chloe will have to keep her wits about her as she navigates her new life while searching for a killer.
Living in Western New York I was so excited to discover a mystery set in my corner of the world. I love the setting and premise for the series. However, I have several issues with the book. The first relates to police procedure. A murdered body is found behind a business. No police investigator waits six days for the shop owner to contact him, a shop owner who is obviously dodging him, especially since he knows where she lives. He doesn't even stop by? Then there is a lack of description. Chloe has a dog, Max. He's a small dog. That's it. That's all we know. Chloe later encounters another dog. A big dog. Again, that's all we know, aside that she prefers small dogs. It's as if the author knew dogs make cozies more popular, so she added them. Descriptions on the whole seem to be lacking. The characters themselves aren't very likable. They're secretive, snarky, and not in a good way, and not very nice. Izzie, Chloe's sister hiccups. A lot. I don't know if it's meant to be a quirky trait the author put in because she was told cozy characters should have quirks, but it doesn't add anything. It's just annoying. The mystery is convoluted with too many possible subplots. Instead of being red herrings, they just create a muddle. And of course, the killer is described as crazy; one of my biggest pet peeves when the killer is rational and the crime well planned.
A BRUSH WITH MURDER is primed with possibilities. Hopefully, the next Paint by Murder Mystery will take advantage of them.