Monday, November 28, 2011

Double Booked for Death by Ali Brandon

book cover

Double Booked for Death
by Ali Brandon

ISBN-13: 978-0425244975
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: December 6, 2011

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover (slightly modified):
As the new owner of Pettistone's Fine Books, Darla Pettistone is determined to prove herself a worthy successor to her late great-aunt Dee...and equally determined to outwit Hamlet, the smarter-than-thou cat she inherited along with the shop.

Darla's first store event is a real coup--the hottest bestselling author of the moment is holding a signing there, which brings hordes of fans and some protestors. But when the author meets an untimely end during the event, it's hardly good for business, even though it's ruled an accident--until Hamlet draws attention to a clue that might indicate it was murder. Now Darla fears a killer might be lurking about, and an ex-cop friend and Darla help the hunky detective track down some clues...

My Review:
Double Booked for Death is a cozy mystery. I suspect other people may find the characters engaging, but I found that their (unexpected) excessive use of bad language and Darla's habit of worrying about everything prevented me from really bonding with them.

The cat is just a cat--possibly a smart one, but possibly just a bad-tempered and naughty one. At the end, I concluded that the cat wasn't as smart as I'd thought he was and so he lost some of his charm for me, but Darla concluded the cat was smarter than she'd thought. I suspect I missed the significance of the books he chose to be naughty with (beyond the obvious that they were crime-related).

There weren't really enough real clues to guess whodunit until near the end of the book. Even when it was obvious, I keep expecting another twist because I didn't really understand whodunit's motive even though it was explained. Again, I was left feeling like I missed something.

Despite that, the book was enjoyable. There was some nice detail woven in about the book-selling business. The suspense was created by several strange and creepy happenings.

There was a fair amount of explicit cussing and swearing as well as some fake bad words. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'm recommend this as an enjoyable mystery as long as you don't mind the bad words and low chance of guessing whodunit based on clues.

Update: After thinking it over a while, I decided part of the reason I was left feeling vaguely dissatisfied with this story was that Darla (and cat and and friends) don't solve the case. They don't know whodunit until the big confession scene, and the case would have been solved even if they did nothing throughout the story.

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
Afternoon sun spilled through the mottled glass of the double front doors leading into Pettistone's Fine Books, the golden light stippling the dark figure sprawled upon the faded Oriental rug that served as a welcome mat. Those customers who'd entered the first-floor brownstone shop within the past half hour had taken the sight of the motionless form in stride--this was Brooklyn, after all--and casually stepped over it to head in the direction of the bestseller table. Finally, however, a cardigan-swathed octogenarian halted in the doorway. His expression was one of vexation as he stared down at the body blocking his path.

"Dead, is he?" the old man exclaimed, giving the "he" in question a querulous poke with his rubber-tipped wooden cane.


The single panicking word was both an answer and a warning. Darla Pettistone leaped from her perch behind the cash register and rushed toward the door, determined to forestall mayhem. She was too late. A sleek black paw the size of a toddler's hand, but far more dangerously equipped, had already slashed out and caught the lacquered walking stick in five needle-sharp claws.

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