Let's Play Dead
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, my take:
Nell Pratt, new to her position as president of the Pennsylvania Antiqarian Society, is focused on hiring new staff to fill some vacancies, including her old position. Then Arabella, the head of the children's museum called Let's Play, calls to congratulate her on her new position. She invites Nell over to see the soon-to-open exhibit at Let's Play.
While Nell is watching a demonstration of how the interactive, animated characters work, someone is shocked with electricity when he touches the weasel character. Nothing is found wrong, but soon after, another worker is shocked and he dies.
Nell knows what bad publicity can do to a museum, so she tries to help Arabella deal with the publicity angle. But what parent would let their kids use the exhibit when no one's sure how things went wrong--twice? Nell decides to help Arabella by discovering for herself how the fatal shock happened and who caused it.
Let's Play Dead is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in a series, but you don't need to read the first novel to understand this one. Also, I don't think this novel "spoiled" anything in the first novel if you read them out of order.
There was a nice level of setting detail and woven in information about running museums. The characters were interesting, varied, and complex. Yet there was a "warm-fuzzy" feel to the whole thing that made the situations seem not entirely realistic. The low level of suspense was created by curiosity about how the murder was done, by who, and why.
"Whodunit" was guessable. I thought it was obvious from the start. The two others reading the book weren't convinced by my argument and thought that other characters were just as likely (which was true). I didn't correctly guess why "whodunit," though.
In my opinion, the ending left something to be desired. We're left with a feeling of "but we're not sure that's really what happened." Not to mention that it's not a "normal murder mystery." I think I would have been more okay with having a "realistic" whodunit solution if the interesting, complex situation hadn't been wrapped up with as many warm-fuzzies as possible.
There were no sex scenes. There was a minor amount of fake bad language and potentially offensive language (some people will consider it bad language, others won't) as well as some explicit bad language. Overall, it was an enjoyable novel even though not quite what I was expecting.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
I wanted to lay my head down on my desk and weep. Or pound my head on it. Neither was appropriate treatment for the lovely eighteenth-century mahogany desk that I had inherited from my recently departed predecessor. Somehow I had ended up with his position, a turn of events that I was still trying to figure out more than two months after it had happened. In a moment of dazzled weakness, I had said yes when the board had asked me to take over as president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society. Why they had asked me was another matter altogether. That had been before Thanksgiving, and ever since I had accepted their offer, I'd been running around like a headless chicken trying to keep the Society on course. Luckily nobody had paid much attention during the holidays, but now it was January, a whole new year, and it was time to get things done.
So here I was, trying to wrap my hands and my head around running a historical institution with a creaking hundred-plus-year-old building in Center City Philadelphia, filled with literally millions of priceless objects relating to Pennsylvania history. I'm Nell Pratt, former fundraiser, currently crazy.