Title: The Black Thumb
Author: Frankie Bow
Publisher: Hawaiian Heritage Press, 2016. 270 pages.
Source: Electronic review copy
When a violent death disrupts the monthly meeting of the Pua Kala Garden society, Professor Molly Barda has no intention of playing amateur detective. But Molly’s not just a witness-the victim is Molly’s house guest and grad-school frenemy. And Molly quickly finds to her dismay that her interest in the murder of the stylish and self-centered Melanie Polewski is more than just…academic.
This was a mystery that caught my attention and kept it from the start to the end. Maybe I was a little extra taken with the main character because I've spent most of my adult life in or around academia, but really the book has little to do with Molly's campus life, since it takes place during the summer vacation. It was just a good read in an interesting setting (Hawaii is just a bit exotic to me, since I've only ever been once, to the Big Island).
I liked Molly as a character. She's not too perfect, but she's not too flawed, either. I'm not sure she's too smart about men, but you can't have everything (time will tell, but I don't like her boyfriend). The author keeps the tone of the book generally light, without making light of the situation Molly finds herself in (the dead woman gets pretty short shrift, as is often the case in cozies, and I've no objection to that).
The mystery itself is well constructed. I did wander around among the red herrings some, though I did begin to suspect the perp well short of the end, and well before Molly did. I didn't really believe my suspicions, so I think the author wins on that one! There were some of the sub-plots that I felt got tied up a little too fast and unconvincingly, but overall, I give the book a high rating and have no significant complaints (except maybe about that man Molly's in love with).
This is a good read for fans of the cozy (light) mystery who don't want cutesy but appreciate humor. I will be reading the rest of the series.
FTC Disclosure: I received an electronic review copy of The Black Thumb from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, and received nothing further from the writer or publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Like Molly Barda, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, a loving family, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining.
In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.
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