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With so many books in existence, it must be hard to come up with something different. There are so many tropes in fiction, and avoiding these or putting your own spin on them can be difficult. So when I come across a book that has done this then I just have to read it! That’s what made me so intrigued about cosy mystery novel Murders With Strings Attached. The plot is just that little bit different and has quite a unique appeal.
***AD: This post features press samples but all thoughts are my own***
“Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy’s priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it’s already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she’d planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they’re not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Murder With Strings attached was an enjoyable, easy read for me. It’s one of those books that is really easy to pick up. It has short chapters and a driven plot that really makes you want to find out what happens next. It’s a super cosy mystery novel with a lot of humour, which makes it a great book to snuggle up under a blanket with next to an open fire (or radiator, in my case).
I read a lot of books that are very description-heavy. Murder With Strings Attached made a nice change in that it’s actually far more saturated with dialogue. I like how the author does this – we learn the story through the characters’ eyes and thought processes. I think writing with so much dialogue can be more difficult than description in some respects, but author Mark Reutlinger does it very well.
As for the characters, it was also a breath of fresh air to follow a middle-aged character who wasn’t currently in the middle of a mid-life crisis or hitting breaking point. Not that there’s anything wrong with these plot lines, but there are rather a lot of them! Flo is not like this at all – she’s a smart and confident woman with a passion for her field and no hang-ups over her age. Despite being younger than her I found her quite relatable, and the flaws that she does have are weaved into the plot well.
The only thing that I felt was a bit off about Flo was her perspective towards describing others (particularly women). In some parts, it just felt a little too obvious that she was being written by a man. Her descriptions of women felt overly-physical, focusing on things that just didn’t seem natural for a middle-aged, likely straight woman to point out. This wasn’t a frequent occurrence, but it did happen a few times and just stood out compared to her usually accurate female perspective.
There are two other main characters – Flo’s best friend, Sara, and of course Aaron, our virtuoso that desperately wants his treasured violin back. I loved both of them, and the three of them together had great chemistry. Aaron was such a dynamic character and I loved his energy, whereas Sara was the more grounded one (with a bit of wild thrown in). The minor characters were interesting – especially on the antagonist’s side – and generally everything felt plausible.
But my favourite aspect of the book, of course, was the plot. I loved the idea of Flo, intending to be the antagonist where Aaron was concerned, ending up as his helper. It was such a great idea to have two people with completely different lifestyles ending up on the same side, and it added a really interesting dynamic to the story. I also liked that he didn’t go with the “reluctant teaming up” approach that you’ll often see in these situations. Despite their differences, Flo and Aaron are more than happy to work together and this felt a lot more original.
If you want a cosy, exciting read with an original plot then Murder With Strings Attached is a great option. Packed with both action and humour, it’ll keep you hooked throughout its various twists and turns as Flo and the gang try their best to retrieve Aaron’s rather expensive violin. And it’s also so positive about “middle-agedness”, easily quashing the myth that once someone hits their 40s it’s all tragic and downhill from there. Well worth a read!
If you’d like to purchase your own copy of Murder With Strings Attached then you can do so here:
“Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novel Made in China and the “Mrs. Kaplan” mystery series. He is a professor of law emeritus at Seattle University. Born in San Francisco, Mark graduated from UC Berkeley and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington.
When not reading or at his computer writing, Mark enjoys tennis, biking, playing the clarinet (in the Tacoma Concert Band), sports cars, and various arts and crafts. He wishes he had time for it all.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
What makes a good cosy mystery novel for you? Comment below, and don’t forget to like and pin! You can read some of my other book reviews here: