Friday, April 27, 2012

A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton

book cover
A Deadly Grind
by Victoria Hamilton

ISBN-13: 9780425248010
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 1, 2012

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modifier from Back Cover:
When vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton spies an original 1920s Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, it’s love at first sight. Despite the protests of her sister that the 19th-century yellow-brick house they share in Michigan is already too cluttered with Jaymie’s “junk,” she successfully outbids the other buyers and triumphantly takes home her Hoosier.

But that night on the summer porch where they’ve left the Hoosier to be cleaned up, a man is murdered, struck on the head with the steel meat grinder that is part of the cabinet. Who is this stranger—and what was he doing on their porch? Does his death have anything to do with the Hoosier?

As the police struggle to determine the man’s identity, Jaymie can’t help doing a little digging on her own. If the murderer isn't found, how will she ever feel safe in her home again?

My Review:
A Deadly Grind is a cozy mystery. It's the first novel in a series. I found the characters engaging and realistic, and they reacted in realistic ways. There was a nice level of detail about the settling and Jaymie's activities. There was some suspense caused by relationship tensions and not knowing how things would turn out.

One main plot was Jaymie coming to terms with how her last boyfriend had hurt her so badly and her starting to realize what she did and didn't want in a man based on that relationship. By the end, she was ready to risk hurt by starting to date again, and she had a better idea of what's worth-while in a man (as in, not just looks). I liked watching this process, and I found her reactions realistic and believable. I also liked how Jaymie realistically reacted to a man being murderer on her porch, though she wasn't going to let her fear and upset run her out of her house.

The mystery started out well as everyone tried to identify who the dead man was and why he was murdered on Jaymie's porch. There were enough clues to know who was involved but not whodunit. Near the end, though, suddenly Jaymie did something stupid. One moment she's, "Gee, I know everyone is after this and someone is willing to kill for it, and the cops will want to know about it, but it's too late to call them (which it wasn't) and I'll reject a sensible offer to get it out of the house and somewhere safe." The next morning, she's "Oh, I kept this so long the police will think I'm withholding evidence, so I'll go plant a garden and keep risking it getting stolen until sometime late this afternoon!" I felt like it was done just so some more exciting events could happen, though the author might have made it believable for me if she'd made Jayme's motives for acting this way more clear at the time she was making these decisions.

The ending also reminded me of Clue (the movie)--it might have happened this way...or this way...but it really happened this way. Though we're given a long explanation of exactly what everyone did and why, I honestly don't remember it since the previous explanation fit the clues better and made more sense to me. I wasn't really satisfied with the whodunit explanation, though it still neatly tied everything up.

There was no explicit sex. There was some explicit bad language and some fake bad language. Overall, I'd recommend the novel for the characters and the fact that the mystery was intriguing.

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:
No one would expect to find a new love at an estate auction, but Jaymie Leighton just had: her heat skipped a beat when she first saw the Indiana housewife's dream. She wasn't in Indiana and she wasn't a housewife, but those were just details. Tall, stately and handsome, if a little worse for wear, the Hoosier stood alone on the long porch of the deserted yellow-brick farmhouse. The hubbub of the crowd melted away as Jaymie mounted the steps, strode down the creaky wooden porch floor and approached, reverently.

"You are so beautiful!" she crooned, stroking the dusty porcelain work top and gently fiddling with the chromed latch of the Hoosier cabinet cupboard, handled by so many generations of housewives before her eager, yet inexperienced, hands touched it. It was a genuine Hoosier, if the metal plate affixed above the top cupboards of the cabinet was to be believed, and she had no cause to doubt it.

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