Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Strange Creatures, Emily Arsenault

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Synopsis: Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping literary mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young academic’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.

The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years, one marriage and divorce, three cats, and a dog later, Theresa still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting job for a local candle company.

Jeff, her so-called genius older brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative, and loyal, he’s also aimless in work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty waitress in her twenties, appears smitten.

When Theresa agrees to dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea that it is the beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet world. Soon, Kim’s body will be found in the woods, and Jeff will become the prime suspect.

Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows that her brother is not a cold-blooded murderer. But to clear him she must find out more about Kim. Investigating the dead woman’s past, Theresa uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and scandal—and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her own.

Thoughts: A great mystery read, as well as a brother-sister relationship story. The subject matter was heavy, but there was plenty of humor--and snark--in the dialogue to help keep it from getting TOO heavy. The conversations between the Battle siblings, Theresa and Jeff, were very realistic for two people who don't really know how to talk about their feelings, and therefore cover them up with shallow conversations.

The mystery component was a REAL mystery, in that I didn't have it figured out in the first three chapters. The ending was a total surprise that I never saw coming. 

My only real complaint is that there was a little too much discussion of Theresa's thesis subject..many times it didn't seem to fit in the plot, and honestly it was pretty boring to me.

I would definitely recommend this to any lover of mysteries, however, and will be looking at some of the author's earlier work, as well

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