Friday, May 20, 2011

Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy

book cover

Grace Interrupted
by Julie Hyzy

ISBN-13: 9780425241905
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 7, 2011

Source: Unrequested review copy from publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover (modified):
Civil War re-enactors have set up camp on the grounds of Marshfield Manor. The group is very believable, especially when the unrest spills out of the camp and into the sumptuous mansion. Grace, the director and head curator of the Manor, manages to settle a minor squabble between some visitors to the Manor and a re-enactor, but she loses the war when re-enactor Zachary Kincade is found stabbed to death.

Jack Embers, the groundskeeper, falls under suspicion when he's linked to the death of Zachary's brother years ago. But Zachary had other enemies: two women out for revenge for a friend Zachary dumped on their wedding day, a re-enactor who was losing the coveted role of "general" to him, and an angry husband whose wife was having an affair with Zachary. Grace believes Jake is innocent, but the police say that the evidence points toward him. She feels responsible for finding out what really happened...and for the sweet tuxedo kitten, Bootsie, found on her doorstep.

My Review:
Grace Interrupted is a well-written mystery. It's the second in a series, but you can follow this one without having read the first novel, and this novel doesn't spoil the mystery in the first one (though it does spoil other events).

There were actually two murders to solve: one that's thirteen years old and one that just happened. I was able to correctly guess "whodunit" for both mysteries before the "reveal," but whodunit wasn't obvious. (Many people hated the murdered men, and it seemed like they all had alibis!)

The characters were varied, complex, and likable. They dealt with realistic issues alongside the mystery (like how living under the suspicion of murder for years had messed up a family). The details about the job, Civil War re-enacting, and the Manor and small town setting were skilfully woven into the story and brought it alive in my imagination.

There were no sex scenes. There was a minor amount of "he cussed" style bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this well-written, enjoyable mystery.

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
The two women glared at me with such sizzling fury I was afraid their eyeballs might catch fire. Flanked as they were by a pair of our manor's elderly security guards, they appeared harmless enough, but both were so visibly agitated it was hard to be sure. They shifted their weight and met my gaze as the guards, Niles and William, explained the situation and handed me the women's photo IDs. I took an involuntary step back in case either of the two in custody decided to take a swing at me.

We faced each other in Marshfield Manor's West Salon, a high-ceilinged room on the mansion's first floor. In the midst of a major refurbishment, the room was off-limits to visitors. Painting scaffolds blocked butternut bookcases, cafe au lait walls, and even one of the floor-to-ceiling windows. The two massive billiard tables that hadn't been removed were covered with protective canvas duck. Since it was Friday and near quitting time, the painters and carpenters had taken off for the weekend, leaving the West Salon empty and quiet. I was pleased that our two security guards had opted to escort our unwelcome visitors here. This way our conversation would not disturb lingering tourists taking a final circuit of the mansion.

Casting a wary glance at the women, Niles did most of the talking. "We tried to tell them--politely, y'understand--that the south grounds were off-limits but they drove straight down there anyway. When we caught up with them on foot, they started beating us up."

"That's a lie," the shorter one, Rani, said. Slim, yet curvy, she watched for my reaction with the alertness of a cat ready to pounce.

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