I’m all for fiction books that fuse different genres, and An Excuse For Murder by Vanessa Westermann is a book that just does that – although it is primarily a crime novel, the story also follows a romance between the main characters. This really intrigued me to read it… How would the author manage to combine the two quite different genres together?
***This post contains a PR sample but all thoughts are my own***
Author: Vanessa Westermann
Published: March 2019
“As a former bodyguard, it should be easy for Gary Fenris to kill, especially when the motive is revenge. But Gary has made two mistakes in his life. The first was letting the woman he loved die on his watch. The second was thinking vengeance could bring him peace.
Local bookstore owner and amateur lock pick Kate Rowan loves nothing more than a good mystery. Her curiosity soon leads her down a trail of blackmail, obsession and death. Despite the risk – or maybe because of it – Gary finds himself drawn to Kate. When danger strikes, Gary is forced to face the fact that he used love as an excuse for murder. And he’s got one last score to settle.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Suspense and mystery are two elements that make a crime novel really good, but a third aspect that can elevate it from great to excellent is strong character development. An Excuse For Murder has all three, so it didn’t take long to get absorbed into the story.
Gary is a great main character to follow – he’s likely relatable for many with his tendencies to over-blame himself, and despite the fact that he commits a murder at the start of the book he’s actually a very likeable character, with witty dialogue and a down-to-earth view of the world. He also has lots of faults, and Westermann develops his character slowly but deliberately throughout the novel, so that we encounter each part of his personality individually. The pacing here is strong, and there’s always something new to learn about him which keeps it fresh.
It’s the same for the other characters too, with Kate being an excellent character to follow. First impressions are very different to how we see her develop throughout the story. I couldn’t help but love her and her obsession with books and nose for a good mystery. The point of view flits between Kate and Gary – Westermann does this with ease, and much of the reader’s learning happens at the same time as the characters.
Feeling invested in the characters was something very strong about An Excuse For Murder. It’s hard to avoid being pulled in not only by the main plotline but also several other threads weaving in and out of the background. The mystery of the Eternal Wife is well-written and engaging, and following the lives of the other minor characters makes for some interesting reading (especially when they start to link together in parts).
I wouldn’t say it’s full of action – the main murder happens at the beginning, and the story that continues is more about preventing action than invoking it – but this made it quite refreshing in a way. Although I love a bit of action when I’m reading a crime novel, I also enjoy the story being illustrated through those quieter moments, whether they be conversations between characters or streams of thought within the protagonist’s head. Both of these occur regularly, and I found Westermann’s character-driven writing to be quite powerful at telling a crime story that’s ultimately led by a romantic theme.
The book had me hooked from the very beginning – with a whole host of gripping characters and an interesting plot with several clever twists, An Excuse For Murder is an excellent choice for crime novel enthusiasts who want something a bit different from the perhaps overdone classic formula that we’re all too familiar with in the genre. It’s well worth a read, and you won’t be able to put it down.
If you’d like to purchase An Excuse For Murder by Vanessa Westermann then you can do so here:
“Vanessa Westermann is a former Arthur Ellis Awards judge, and has given a talk on the evolution of women’s crime writing, at the Toronto Chapter of Sisters in Crime.
Vanessa’s book review column entitled “Vanessa’s Picks” was published in Sleuth of Baker Street Mystery Bookstore’s monthly newsletter from 2012 to 2016. The column was developed into a blog, featuring literary reviews and author interviews.
While living in Germany, she attained an M.A. in English Literature and went on to teach creative writing.
She currently lives in Canada and is working on her next novel, while drinking copious amounts of tea.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
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