Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ARC Review: 'Til Death Do Us Part by Amanda Quick (Release date: April 19, 2016)


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Click here to buy the hardcover at The Book Depository

'Til Death Do Us Part starts with a strange conversation between two men plotting to "deal with" the wife of one of the men.

Then we are introduced to Calista Langley, who manages a matchmaking service. She's a single woman with a comfortable income, and, now, she is being hounded by an ex, who wants to rekindle their former relationship. Calista is also receiving very morbid memento mori from an anonymous admirer. Calista is inclined to dismiss the gifts, but she becomes increasingly concerned as the gifts continue to arrive.

Trent Hastings is a reclusive mystery writer who isn't pleased when he discovers that his younger sister has engaged Calista's services, but he doesn't expect to be so fascinated by the very fiercely independent lady.

What fascinates me about mystery stories is how many elements are needed to create a really compelling story: the crime, the suspect(s), the investigation, the actual perpetrator, and the motive. Now, what I love about mystery stories written by romance authors is that addition of a romantic element.

And Amanda Quick is a master at telling a really, really good romantic mystery story.

Trent Hastings suffered an injury that left him scarred and disfigured. He is happy with the stories that he writes, and I loved how his occupation as writer actually added a metafictional element to the story: Trent is a character in a mystery novel, who is writing a mystery novel! It's interesting for him to use his knowledge and experience in order to conduct the interviews during the investigation and figure out the pattern of the murders.

Not much is said of Calista's physical features, and I liked that the author focused more on her capabilities than on her appearance. She holds her own during the investigation and it is her intelligence and independence that wins Trent over.

As Trent and Calista follow the trail of clues, they discover a string of murders with a very disturbing pattern: three governesses with no close relations, dead of unnatural causes, each one receiving the same gifts as Calista, and culminating in the delivery of a very expensive coffin -- and all of them trace back to Nestor Kettering, the man who is seeking to renew his relationship with Calista. What's creepy about Nestor is that he abandoned Calista many years ago when he discovered the state of her finances. He is currently married to a wealthy heiress, but he has no control over his wife's money. What does he want from Calista? Why now after all these years?

But what carries this story is the mystery: Amanda Quick does an amazing job of introducing unnamed henchmen in the background, surprising allies, and plot twists. (Also, I am hoping Amanda Quick does a follow-up on Andrew Langley, Calista's younger brother, who is a very good detective-in-training. ^_^) This was a thoroughly enjoyable page-turner.

'Til Death Do Us Part is released today, April 19, 2016. To find out more about Amanda Quick and her books, click below:
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Disclosure: I requested and received this ARC from Netgalley. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Amanda Quick for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.





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