Friday, October 19, 2018

'Til Death Do Us Part: Review

Full disclosure: I started 'Til Death Do Us Part (2016) by Amanda Quick as an audio novel (which is how I own it). I buy interesting-looking audio novels whenever our library used bookstore has them so I can listen to books when I make the long drive to my parents. But, occasionally, I just can't listen to an audio novel no matter how interesting the story. That was the case with The Sign of the Book back in March. With that one, everything was fine until the loud-mouthed, annoying bumbling deputy showed up and I just could not take the voice/intonations the reader gave him. It's a little bit harder to say what it was about the audio version of Quick's novel. I don't know if it was the reader or the pacing of the reading or just the type of book (mystery/suspense/romance)--but, whatever the reason, I had to give it up. But the plot still intrigued me, so I ordered it up from the library so I could finish it off and count it for challenges (since I do own it, it counts for Mt. TBR; since read more than half of it in hard copy, I'm counting it for Strictly Print).

The story features Calista Langley who, along with her younger brother, has inherited the family home but no income to go along with it. Having gone through a rather painful romance (the scoundrel dropped her like a hot potato when he discovered there was no finances to along with the big house), she develops an exclusive Introduction Agency where like-minded individuals may meet in comfort, privacy, and safety for good conversation and perhaps develop friendships. Her brother has a knack for investigation and does the background checks to help weed out potential gold diggers and worse. The business has just started humming along nicely when a variety of challenges are thrown Calista's way.

The scoundrel mentioned above, now married but bored with his wife and chafing at the restrictive settlement his papa-in-law made on his daughter (no cash for hubby if she leaves him or she dies), comes bursting back into Calista's life wanting "fan the flames" of their former passion. He doesn't want to take no for an answer. Add to that the famous mystery writer Trent Hastings who has descended upon her--ostensibly looking to use her service, but in reality to check up on whether she's a fraud. His sister has become rather enamored with Calista's salons and he doesn't want to see her get hurt. But Calista stands up to him and the reclusive author finds himself attracted by her.

Third...and most distressing of all...Calista has been receiving creepy momento mori gifts. Someone is sneaking into her house and leaving tear-catchers and coffin bells and a jet & crystal ring, all engraved with her initials. When Trent returns to make amends, he's just in time to witness Calista's receipt of another gruesome gift. He offers to help the Langleys investigate to find the person responsible and eventually his sister Eudora joins in as well. The deeper they dig, the more disturbing the evidence...for Calista is not this stalker's first victim. And he has left a trail of bodies behind him. The investigators must work hard to discover the villain before Calista needs a coffin to go with the bells.

While this is not a mystery cast in the Golden Age mold, there is a credible investigation undertaken by Calista and her supporters. Evidence is gathered and they work their way towards the grand finale. It does take an encounter between Calista and the stalker to reveal the stalker's true identity, though. Quick is strongest in her historical background and the relationships she builds among the lead characters--particularly the growing attraction and romance between Trent and Calista. Once I was reading instead of listening, I was able to settle down and enjoy the quick-paced story. This was my first Amanda Quick novel, but it won't be my last. ★★

[Finished 10/4/18]


Quotes:
I am most certainly not the hero of my novels. But I have been told that I have a talent for logical thinking. In addition, thanks to the research that I have done for several of my books, I have acquired a few useful skills and some connections in certain quarters that may prove helpful. ~Trent Hastings (p. 61)

I'm an author, Calista. The older I get, the more I'm convinced that a truth only makes sense when it is revealed in the form of a story. Without that context it is simply a random event with no meaning. ~Trent Hastings (p. 123)

Perhaps one must experience a passion of one's own before one can comprehend another's. ~Calista Langley (p. 133)

There is so much unnecessary loneliness in the world. Marriage is not necessarily the answer, at least not for women. But an enduring friendship is a great gift and a blessing. ~Calista Langley (p. 133)

I told him a story, Calista. People will follow you anywhere if you tell them a tale they desperately want to believe. It's astonishing, really, how gullible even the most skeptical person can be if he or she wants to believe. ~Trent Hastings (p. 229)

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