Whodunit Book Club is a great place to catch up with folk who share a penchant for reading mystery fiction. Tonight fourteen members met at Chapters store, MicMac Mall, Dartmouth. Some faces were regulars, some not so much. All were welcome.
"Once upon a lie" by Maggie Barbieri. The first novel in a series, the book features Maeve Conlon, a divorced mother of two teenage girls, and a businesswomen who owns and runs a bakery/cafe. Her life is kept very busy doing the balancing act of the sandwich generation. Her father, Jack, is a retired policeman who is suffering from early stage dementia and resides in an assisted living facility near Maeve's home. Her ex-husband is remarried and has a new baby. Her bakery is just barely making ends meet.
We begin reading just about the time when Maeve's cousin Sean Donovan has been murdered. Maeve grew up living next door to Sean, but their relationship was complicated. Maeve's mother died when she was only seven. While Jack worked as a policeman to support himself and his only daughter, he left Maeve under Sean's supervision.
Now that Sean is gone - murdered in a rather sordid way - Maeve worries that bad blood between Sean and her father might have precipitated Jack into murdering Sean. She tries to discern if he could have done it...
As we usually do at Whodunit, we polled the members to rate the novel out of a possible 10 points - asking those in attendance if they would read another book by this author. The average score for "Once upon a lie" was 5.6 out of 10 with only one member saying they would read further in the series.
Lively discussion prevailed. First off we discussed if we thought the book was a 'thriller' as the cover proclaimed. Most of us agreed that it was not. A mystery perhaps... but one in which it was fairly easy to discern the culprit.
Members appreciated the fact that the author employed humor to lighten the often dark subject matter.
Although many members were empathetic toward the protagonist Maeve, others thought her unsympathetic and one-dimensional. Most members agreed that the writing was good on the whole, but was at times tedious and unrealistic. One scene in particular was said to be 'over the top'! There were some interesting secondary characters, but even they were at times caricature-like. Some members disliked the fact that justice did not prevail.
Anyone interested in reading further in this series will need to purchase #2 "Lies that bind" and #3 "Lie in plain sight". Maggie Barbieri is the author of the Murder 101 series and this new series starring baker Maeve Conlon.
Five lucky Whodunit members won books this evening:
During November's meeting of the Whodunit Book Club we will discuss "What kills good men" by local author David Hood. Set in Halifax in 1899, this historical mystery should be of interest to all.