Monday, July 9, 2012
Death Makes the Cut, by Janice Hamrick
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High school history teacher Jocelyn Shore finds herself in the midst of a murder investigation when her coworker, the beloved Coach Fred, coach of the school's tennis team (that's apparently a thing), is found dead in his equipment shed. Just the day before Jocelyn had overheard the coach arguing with a parent who was irate that his son didn't make captain (captain of the high school tennis team is also a thing, apparently). Could that be related to Coach Fred's untimely death?
Our plucky though sometimes impossibly naive heroine can't help but to try to solve the mystery, while balancing a charming yet arrogant homicide detective, a long distance romance with her hunky boyfriend (for more information on these, see every cozy mystery with a female amateur sleuth ever written), overbearing coworkers, and her role as the new tennis coach which has her promising to take the team to State (What? Your high school tennis team didn't go to State? You probably had the wrong captain).
I enjoyed this book, albeit ironically at times. It reminded me of a parody of cozy mystery romance novels, but a cute parody. At one point the heroine is talking to her hunky boyfriend on the phone and she remarks to herself: "My stomach sank down to my toes, bounced up against my esophagus, and then settled down to a wicked churn somewhere in the middle." Strictly speaking, I'm not supposed to quote the book in this review since I read an uncorrected proof and it may have been changed before final publication, but that's some funny @#*! right there. I'm not sure the author meant it to be funny, but if she was trying to make fun of the kind of silliness one often finds in female amateur sleuth novels, she certainly nailed it.
And then there are the things that flat out don't make sense. First of all, it takes place in August. School apparently starts in August in Austin, Texas. Also, even though Coach Fred dies on the last day of summer vacation, he's already gotten into an argument with a parent over who is the captain of the tennis team, and with a fellow teacher over whether or not one of his players can continue playing tennis and star in the school musical. So auditions for the school musical and tryouts for captain of the tennis team take place over the summer? Plus, our heroine, Jocelyn, makes a point to mention that school lets out at 4:30pm and all after school activities begin at 4:40pm. That might be the hardest working high school in North America.
Even if the humour is unintentional, Death Makes the Cut is an enjoyable, campy summer read. In many ways, the silliness of it just added to how much I liked it.
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley.com. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.