Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review of "How to Succeed Without Dying" by Becky A. Bartness

How to Succeed Without Dying: A Kate Williams mysteryI was lucky enough to review the previous book in this series (Book three, "How to Lose a Client"). You can find my review here.

Disclaimer: I, the reviewer, was sent this book in exchange for a review. I have not received any sort of monetary incentive for a positive review.

Type: Mystery, Lawyers, The Dead Guy Has No Head!, and Hospital stays.

From the back of the book: "  Kate, along with M.J., her fashion-challenged paralegal and Sam, her obsessive compulsive investigator, are off and running on another investigation with more twists and turns than a tilt-a-whirl. She is joined by an interesting cast of characters, many of whom have appeared in previous novels in the Kate Williams mystery series. After discovering a headless body in a Phoenix cemetary, Kate and her colleagues are shocked to discover that it's a well-respected county attorney. In How to Succeed Without Dying, Kate undertakes the representation of the alleged murderer of Mitchell Alvarez, deputy county attorney. Hints at Alvarez's involvement in the activities of a Mexican cartel bring Kate and her staff into contact with the dangerous world of drugs and violence. As usual, the action is fast moving and at times hysterical.  "

This must be my week for mysteries.. second mystery in a week! For those of you that have been following my blog, mysteries aren't something I read a lot. But I've definitely decided stepping out of my usual genre is not such a bad thing. Speaking of bad things, I think I'll start this review with my only issue. There were a few times when a relationship or even a name was said wrong, and it did pull me out of the story. For example, Arnie (the accused) is very close to his grandmother, and even lives with her. But at one point, his grandmother was accidentally called his mother, which confused me for a few moments. And similarly, a character, who was in the story for just a few pages, was called both Bernie and Bennie. It only happened once, but it was one of those "Oh wait..." moments. Not really that big of a deal, but every reader has their "Uhhh." issue.

I liken the Kate Williams  Mystery series to the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. That's certainly not a bad thing, Stephanie Plum has a huge fanbase. But for longtime readers of the Plum series, one has to notice how some of the plot has gotten sacrificed for character drama and senseless humor. For some people, that's okay. But for me, well, I enjoy some mystery in my mystery series. The Kate Williams series is perfect for that occasion. There's humor, definitely. In fact, there was several occasions I chuckled to myself, and even read a few lines to my mother. She looked at me strangely, so I guess context does matter when it comes to some of the amusing parts. But it's not just funny, and it's not just the main character drooling over the men (or in this case man) in her life. There is actual mystery, real drama, and it keeps the reader guessing until the end. Frankly, most mysteries I have read, you can guess the bad guy fairly early on.. it's just figuring out how it happened. But I can honestly say this book, and the previous book in the series, kept me guessing up until the end. And then when I thought I finally had it figured out.. BAM! Something new, and the evidence of the past was brought back into question.

I don't think I've ever read a book where the character spent this much time in a hospital. And the reader could definitely see her (what I like to call) "lawyerness" come out near the end of the book. She's mad about how she's being taken care of by the police officers and federal agents, as well as the lack of any staff around in the hospital. I was quite amused by her running tally of defendants and evidence going through her head as she wandered the halls.
I'm going to give "How to Succeed Without Dying" by Becky A. Bartness a FOUR out of FIVE (4/5). I did enjoy the book, and I'm going to recommend this series to anyone that enjoys a good mystery, and any fans of the Stephanie Plum series.

Read it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments. Want to check it out? Find it at Amazon.com!

Happy Reading!
~!~ Morning Glow

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