Series: Aurora Anderson Mystery #1
Format Read: egalley
Source: blog tour company in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 18, 2014
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Blurb from goodreads:
A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…
Computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.
Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weekends before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend painting seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?
I love when I read a book for pleasure and learn new things. I'm not familiar with tole painting, though I've heard of it, and the book has lots of little details about techniques and styles. One of the nice things about cozy mysteries is all the different and sometimes quirky activities and professions that occur in them.
"Fatal Brushstrokes" is the first book of a new series but I was confused at times as there were several references to a previous mystery that Rory was involved in and it seemed as if the reader was expected to be familiar with the details. Rory solves the current mystery with the help of her mother Arika and her good friend Lizzie. The police were presented as being not particularly competent and the chief of police has an unreasonable hatred of Rory because of something her biological parents (she's adopted) did over 20 years ago. Granted, he suffered greatly from their actions but his own behavior in the story was shameful and unprofessional and had a negative impact on the current murder investigation. He partially redeems himself at the end though I expect that his behavior will have repercussions in following stories.
Rory herself was likable if at times absurdly stupid - she repeatedly withheld important information from the police and naturally each time the information came out, it made her look guilty. I was surprised when she did it a second time as I expected she would have learned after the first incident. Apart from these lapses in good judgement, Rory is smart, capable, compassionate, and with a quirky sense of humor. There was a hint of romance between Rory and the lead detective on the case, Detective Green and also a hint of mystery about Green's background.
"Fatal Brushstrokes" was a fast, easy read with likable characters. The setting was enjoyable and the mystery not too easy to solve. While I did predict some events there were some twists and turns and Johnson did a good job presenting believable red herrings. "Fatal Brushstrokes" had some bumpy moments but it's a good start to a new series and there's lot of room for growth on Rory's part.
About Sybil ~
Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.
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