Review for The Goodbye Body, by Joan Hess

Claire Malloy, bookstore owner, smells a rat. And sees it too, sneaking about in her own house. After throwing the book at her landlord, who grudgingly agrees to make extensive cleanup and repairs to her duplex, Claire and her daughter find themselves out of a home for two weeks. In steps Dolly, loyal customer, to offer her place to them as she jaunts off to visit her sister in Austin. And that's when the bodies start showing up--with most of them being the same body.

Not being a fan of mobster, well, anything, this book didn't excite me as much as the previous Claire book. The mob characters all began to blend together, since I don't possess the experience with such characters to detect minor differences in their makeup. Everyone came across as overly inquisitive, to hide the characters who were trying to pump Claire or one of the girls for information. I could see one random stranger asking curious questions, but four? Thankfully, most everyone had perfectly good explanations eventually.

Dolly was the linchpin character to this whole story, but she was painfully boring when in a scene. Sure, she was supposed to be secretive in order to draw out the plot. But every time it was "fake laugh, lame excuse, admit a lie, leave abruptly". On top of that, this plot ended with a double reveal after the climactic action ended: one for most of the suspect characters, and one after that for Dolly. It just felt like she never fit well with her own story.

I really enjoyed Cal, Caron and Inez in this book. The girls were amusing, believable, and entertaining with their chosen hobby. The rich girls who entered the story at the beginning seemed to be treating the plot as a strip mall, and only showed up in it reluctantly, afraid to really interact with anything they saw.

The plot seemed unnecessarily complicated for a mystery novel of this caliber. Perhaps that's due to my lack of Soprano-esque experience, though. It continued to feel like a stretch to involve distant doings in Farberville; nothing felt exceptionally immediate or clear much of the time.

The writing left me wanting, honestly. There was, unfortunately, a nice crop of typos. Baffling. I also noticed a tendency to flip-flop on Claire's level of intelligence between scenes.

3 of 5 stars.

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