Book Title: Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr
Series: Thorny Rose Mystery Series (Volume 3)
Genre: Murder Mystery
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Release date: Aug 28, 2018
Narrator: Mike Alger
Length: 8 hours, 32 minutes, unabridged
Tour dates: Oct 8 to Nov 2, 2018
Content Rating: PG (mild violence and sexual suggestion)
Perfection can be a fatal endeavor.
Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.
When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.
To read reviews, please visit Lauren Carr's page on iRead Book Tours.
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Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram
The Mysterious COD (Cause of Death) of Popular Mystery Series
By Lauren Carr
Are you a fan of stand-alone mysteries that present a single case with one sleuth or team of detectives fighting to capture the killer and bring justice for all?
Or, are you a fan of murder mystery series, whether it be a television or book series, where the detective and his team become like old friends who you drop in on with each case?
If you are a fan of mystery series, then my next question is—have you ever noticed your interest dropping after a while? You’re not alone. Most would consider it natural for a mystery series to fall victim to a gradual decline in readership over time. Being a huge fan of mysteries, I have seen many a popular series die a slow lingering death.
As the author of four series, the Mac Faraday Mysteries, Lovers in Crime, Thorny Rose Mysteries, and Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries, I have an invested interest in identifying the most frequent COD (Cause of Death) of popular mystery series and I believe I found it.
Writer’s Lost of Focus!
One of the hard and fast rules of writing is to always move the story forward. Every chapter, every scene within the chapter, must move forward to the conclusion, which is solving the crime and capturing the murderer.
Unfortunately, murder mystery fans and the writers themselves can become so fascinated by their series’ protagonist and his friends and family, that they will ever so gradually shift the central focus away from the mystery and refocus on the personal conflict surrounding the protagonist.
Eventually, if the series survives long enough, fans will find that seventy-five percent of the story will be about the detective’s family or home life and twenty-five percent will be focused on the case—demoting the mystery to little more than a subplot.
I can clearly remember the first time I noticed this happen. I was a fan of the television series Moonlighting in the 1980’s. That was back when Bruce Willis had hair. I was one of those devoted viewers who tuned in every week to watch Bruce Willis teach Cybil Shepherd’s character, a super model, the ropes of being a private investigator.
In the beginning, the sparring couple would investigate mysteries while exchanging witty insults to combat their growing sexual tension. By the end of the first season, however, the genre for the series changed to a romantic comedy with a mystery backdrop.
I had noticed that the mystery cases became less interesting and challenging until they eventually became un-memorable. Then, one week I tuned in to find that there was no case at all. The whole episode of this “mystery” series was about Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis. If I recall correctly, I threw the remote at the television. Feeling cheated and betrayed by the writers, I never tuned in again.
A couple of years ago, I noticed the same thing happening with another favorite mystery show, Castle. Now a writer, I saw what was gradually taking place. One evening, I timed how much time was spent on the mystery versus the characters. Only four scenes—less than seven out of forty-two minutes― were focused on the mystery. The rest of the program was about Castle and Beckett. It was no surprise that the series ended only two months later.
As writer, I can see how very easy it would be for a writer to start down this slippery slope. We become so wrapped up in our characters that we can completely lose sight of the murder mystery that draws readers into the story in the first place.
Fully developed characters tend to take on a life of their own. So it is extremely easy to get drawn into their characters’ lives, especially a sexy romantic entanglement.
The first clue of this slow acting poison is a scene here or there in which the case is not even mentioned. I must confess that this happens to me occasionally.
In Crimes Past, my upcoming Mac Faraday Mystery, I discovered I had written a couple of scenes involving Police Chief David O’Callaghan personal life that had nothing to do with the mystery. However, I have been planning a plotline that meant changes in David’s personal life in this book. Recalling that night, I hurled the television remote after Moonlighting, I am intimate with that feeling of betrayal a reader experiences when she picks up a murder mystery to find that the mystery is playing second fiddle to a romance or family drama. So I ruthlessly deleted and rewrote many scenes until I made sure it was only a subplot and the mystery came first!
I confess, it is not easy to rein myself in when my characters offer an intriguing and fun subplot that has little or nothing to do with the murder case. Subplots that pertain to the protagonist’s private life make them more human to the reader. It helps to draw the reader in.
For example, in Murder by Perfection, J.J. Thornton arrives in Great Falls to help search for his identical twin Murphy. A regular in the Lovers in Crime Mystery series, J.J. has developed feelings for Poppy, his horse trainer. It was only natural for Jessica to question, advice, and nudge J.J. to move forward in this relationship, which brought about some delightful scenes—none of which involved the mystery!
However, the mystery and Murphy’s disappearance right after a fight with Jessica was the perfect catalyst for making J.J. explore his feelings for Poppy. Even though the romantic subplot had nothing to do with the case—the case had everything to do with the subplot.
While I kept the subplot and even devoted time to it away from the mystery case, I kept them short—always keeping the mystery front and center.
So, the next question is how does a writer keep herself from losing focus of her mystery’s main plot and starting down that slipper sloop away from the case?
It’s simple. When your characters start to lead you too far away from the murder case, just say no and go back to the case.
Repeat to yourself: Focus. Focus. Keep your eye on the mystery.
Murder by Perfection is the first introduction for me to Lauren Carr’s writing. And it is, also, the third installment from the Thorny Rose Mysteries series. I feel this book can be read as a stand alone as I did not feel as though I was missing any information that may have been addressed in the previous books.
In Murder by Perfection, I was introduced to a cute couple, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday, who struggle to find time together and far away from work responsibilities. Just when they finally make plans for a night on the town alone, work gets in the way one more time. Their night on the town turns in to a couple’s gourmet cooking class with Natalie Stepford. Situations quickly take a turn when Natalie is dead and Murphy disappears. I found the plot to be fast paced and at times some laugh out loud humor. The suspense and mystery made me want to know what was going to happen next and guessing the unpredictable “who done it” question. There are some twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the excitement, action, and adventure involved.
I am giving Murder by Perfection a well deserved five plus stars. I would love to go back and read the previous books from the Thorny Rose Mysteries series. As well as, any other books written by Lauren Carr. I will definitely be looking for more by her in the future.
I highly recommend Murder by Perfection.
I received this book from the author. This review is 100% my own honest opinion.
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