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SoCu Mystery

Mystery reviews posted every 5 days from a librarian at a tiny public library.

Killer Jam Review

Killer Jam (A Dewberry Farm Mystery) - Karen MacInerney

I got this novel free from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for a review, which I'm grateful for.

This book is an incredibly strong start to this new series. The author gives attention to the characters she introduces so that you don't feel that she's only giving you a vague sketch of them, saving fleshing them out for future books, but she also makes you feel that there's more to learn about them. I left the book feeling a connection with the characters that I wasn't expecting when I first started it.

When I first started the book, I admit that I wasn't drawn in. The first chapter seemed dull and I couldn't feel a connection to the characters. That feeling didn't last for long, though. By the start of chapter 2 I was beginning to get drawn into the plot and interest in the characters quickly followed. I think that the charm of the novel came from the communalism that was such a central part of the interaction between characters. Characters weren't merely looking out for themselves, they were thinking of the good of their town as a whole. Characters that didn't follow this mode of thinking and did prioritize their wants above the town were seen as suspect or even villainous. It was treated as an unnatural trait to be selfish. I think that's one of the things I most appreciated about the novel from beginning to end is the way that the town worked together. I had a few issues with the book as it progressed, primarily in the form of a few awkward phrasings and a very, very minor continuity error, but my appreciation for the way that characters connected more than overwhelmed that and made the book an enjoyable read.

At the end of the book a few recipes were included, some of which I'd tried before reading the book and some of which I haven't. The ones that I'd made a variation of before, the maple twists and the jam, were delicious which makes me excited to try the other ones. Having a great book that also gives me a new recipe to try is a fun surprise.

I'm excited to see more books come out of this series. I'd definitely recommend this book to others and read future books if they came out.

This review originally posted on SoCu Mysteries.

Review for Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death - James Runcie

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Typically I’m one to dismiss out of hand books that revolve around priests, but I’m glad I stuck with this one. In spite of the main character, the plot of the book was for the most part not centered around Christianity or having a moral message for the reader. The book’s primary value was that of compassion, something I think that people can find relatable and sympathetic regardless of their religious inclinations, or lack there of.


The book is split into six short stories, which do vary in quality. The penultimate story is the low point of the book in my mind, being practically the sole reason that I didn’t give this book a five star rating. Aside from that story, though, I found the rest of them to be incredibly entertaining. The characters in the book are sympathetic and the secondary characters don’t suffer from being underdeveloped. I also appreciated that secondary characters made recurring appearances in more than one story, not seeming to exist purely to further one plot and then vanishing into the ether.


What I particularly liked about the book was the way that Canon Chambers was still invested in his life outside of the crimes he was investigating. Rather than having his detective work act as an escape from his every day life, it acted as a continuation of it. Chambers pursues his criminal investigations as his civic duty.


The book was altogether very enjoyable and I’d definitely read further in the series.