A quick moving, entertaining mystery. I’m not entirely sure it all held together, but I’m not going to worry too much about it.
Summary via Goodreads:
When death shatters the serenity of the exclusive moneyed enclave of Tuxedo Park, New York, Eliza Blake, cohost of the country’s premier morning television show KEY to America, is on the scene. While attending a lavish gala at her friends’ newly renovated estate, Pentimento, Eliza’s host is found dead—a grotesque suicide that is the first act in a macabre and intricately conceived plan to expose the sins of the past involving some of the town’s most revered citizens.
Determined to find out the truth, Eliza and her KEY News colleagues—producer Annabelle Murphy, cameraman B.J. D’Elia, and psychiatrist Margo Gonzalez—discover that Pentimento holds the key. Nestled in the park’s sprawling architectural masterpieces, picturesque gardeners’ cottages, and lush, rolling landscape, the glorious mansion is actually a giant “puzzle house,” filled with ingenious clues hidden in its fireplaces, fountains, and frescoes that lead them from one suspicious locale to another—and, one by one, to the victims of a fiendish killer.
As Pentimento gives up its secrets, it becomes clear that no amount of wealth or privilege will keep the residents of Tuxedo Park safe. But just when Eliza unearths one final surprise, she comes face-to-face with a murderer who believes that some puzzles should never be solved.
My first experience with the author was with her more recent To Have and to Kill. I thought her writing style didn’t work well with the cozy mystery, but thought it might work better with this series, which seemed a little grittier.
I was right about that. My guess that her TV experience would lend some appeal to her writing about a TV morning show host also proved true.
The mystery was (deliberately) convoluted. I took it for the entertainment value, and chose not to worry about things like how the bad guys were really making everything much worse for themselves, and how unlikely some of their actions were. Even the framework of the puzzles promised more than they delivered, but that actually worked for me, given the character of the puzzlemaker.
I found the setting in the closed community of Tuxedo Park to be intriguing, an unfamiliar world within a familiar one. I really liked how the closed setting forced a situation where those involved all knew one another– a very small town in a much larger community.
I enjoyed the character of Eliza Blake. She’s a tough, smart woman. There were references to events that had happened before, and I’m interested in going back to fill in the details, and to get to know the secondary characters a little better. They weren’t particularly well fleshed out in this book, but I suspect that the cumulative picture is more interesting.
Narrator: Isabel Keating does a competent job with Dying for Mercy. I didn’t love her voice, but it wasn’t distracting, either. Her voices for the different characters worked well to distinguish between them.
Production: This was a solid production, with no real issues. It’s a small thing, but I really appreciate that the large number of chapters meant that each disc could start at a chapter break.
Audio or Print? Your choice. I don’t think the audio version adds to or detracts from the book.