Friday, August 31, 2012

Treacherous Toys by Joyce & Jim Lavene

book cover
Treacherous Toys
by Joyce & Jim Lavene

ISBN-13: 978-0425251584
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: September 4, 2012

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Jessie Morton returns to the Renaissance Faire Village to work as an apprentice to the new toy maker. But she discovers his body with a gunshot wound through his neck just hours after they initially meet. It soon becomes clear that Chris Christmas liked toying with the ladies...and someone coveted his job playing Father Christmas.

My Review:
Treacherous Toys is a cozy mystery. It's the fifth novel in the series, and it didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous novels. However, if this series sounds interesting to you, I'd suggest starting with the first novel in the series as it's probably better than this one.

I was interested by the setting of a permanent Renaissance Faire and in learning how toys were made. However, the setting was only vaguely described, and there was only a brief, generic description of making "kit," hand-assembled toys. Most of the description was spent on a few key characters. Still, you get the impression that the primary thing Faire workers do is try to seduce each other (married or not).

I couldn't understand why Chase loved Jessie since she routinely broke her promises to him, was constantly getting into trouble, and lied to and manipulated people without feeling bad about doing so. I'm not surprised that Jessie was about to lose her university job as she only showed up at her Faire jobs when she felt like it.

Jessie seemed to change her mind from one extreme to another for no apparent reason (as nothing had changed). One moment Jessie wanted protection from the killer she was sure was out to get her, and the next she was going out of her way to try to bring the killer in all by herself purely for the glory of it (though Jessie was unarmed and the killer had a gun). She kept going back and forth between the two.

A number of details were left unexplained. For example, at one point, the killer was unconscious and tied up, yet moments later the killer disappeared and no one wondered at how. Though the gun was never taken away from the killer (that we're told), the killer switched to a knife at the very end. Not to mention all the didn't-make-sense actions of Jessie and the killer. For example, Jessie wanted to contact the police in one of her non-glory-seeking moments, but she didn't pick up the two-way security radio on the nearby table or ask someone to use a phone to do so.

The mystery wasn't really a clue-based puzzle whodunit. The suspense was created by physical danger to several characters and relationship tension between Jessie and Chase. I had a hard time feeling concern, though, since Jessie brought both on herself for reasons that weren't very understandable to me. There was no explicit sex. There was a minor amount of explicit bad language.

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: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.


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