Friday, February 25, 2011

The Twinning Murders by Shelly Frome & a Guest Post!

Today I'm happy to welcome Shelly Frome, author of The Twinning Murders for a guest post. I'll let Mr. Frome take it from here:
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Stalking the springboard for a crime novel by Shelly Frome
 
Someone once told me that you don’t have the necessary ingredients of a good crime novel unless one of your basic assumptions is threatened or, at the very least, you  feel you have to come to terms with some troubling facet of ongoing reality. Be that as it may, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sets me off and running.
 
Take the springboard for my currently released mystery The Twinning Murders. As it happens, I live in a quaint historic New England village. Recently an urban development corporation set up shop with a view toward clearing an expanse of meadow and upland that had been untouched for hundreds of years, a beautiful tract that just happened to lie adjacent to our own property.  The plan--turn it into a highly profitable 175-unit condo facility replete with recreation facilities. Moreover, just beforehand, my wife and I were given a personal tour through the west of England from Bath, to Devon and Cornwall. During this same time period, we discovered we had a sister village in England when a coterie of visitors and officials came to call as the beginnings of an exchange program and my wife and I were asked to write a feature article for the local paper. When the developers finally steamrolled their way through the local planning commission with scarcely any opposition, I found myself yet again at odds with the way of things. Taken into account the sister villages, the guided tour and the conflict between conservation and the wild vs. the machinations of urban developers, an amiable woman who lives on the edge of the moors in Devon suggested, “Dear, I think you’ve definitely got the ingredients for a twinning..”
  
As an incurable storyteller always asking myself what if?, soon enough an unwitting heroine began to appear in my imagination (a tour guide of course whose name suitably was Emily) along with an event that touched her deeply. In this case it was a surrogate father, environmentalist and head of the planning commission and the only obstacle in the way of the developers. As soon as he was dispatched by unseen hands and the powers that be kept dragging their heels, Emily found herself at odds on both sides of the pond. I then became totally engaged in the project because I had at least three vital ingredients: someone to care about, the ties that bind, and something vital at stake in the form of great wrongs that had to be put to rights.
  
Now I’m working on another tale, this one set in Mississippi driven by secret crimes of the past and a failed journalist driven by inner and outer forces he doesn’t quite understand.  Needless to say, without this troubling springboard, I have no compelling reason to go on. I don’t look for it, I don’t seek it out. From time to time, it just seems to be out there, waiting for me. 
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Thank you, Shelly, for taking the time to stop by! You can check out the rest of the tour here. Now for the review:
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The Twinning  Murders by Shelly Frome
Published: September 10, 2010
Publisher: Beckham Publications Group
(228 pages, paperback)
Summary: The Twinning Murders is a modern day classic mystery centering on the ventures of Emily Ryder, a thirty-something rambler and tour guide. The story opens just before she embarks on this year's Twinning ritual exchange. It's between her historic New England home and its sister village deep in Dartmoor, a wild upland area in the west of the county of Devon, England. Emily becomes personally involved in a suspicious death.. A few days later, at the Twinning itself, her main client meets the same fate. As Emily's world continues to unravel, and though she has little help, she finds herself compelled to piece together the games being played on both sides of the Atlantic.
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My thoughts: I'm always one for a good mystery, and The Twinning Murders was an excellent mystery. I was captivated by the detailed writing and the suspenseful storyline. Emily, while a bit inconsistent, was an interesting, three-dimensional, likable character. The secondary characters were well-developed, and I was guessing until the very last few pages of the novel. I really enjoyed the original premise, and overall, I really enjoyed reading The Twinning Murders.
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The story nearly opens with the first murder, one of Emily's closest friends. She immediately finds something about his death suspicious, even while everyone around her seems to think it was perfectly natural. Despite her obliviousness until the very end, Emily was an intelligent girl and I enjoyed seeing her figuring out the mysteries that surrounded the twin cities. She got a little headstrong at points, but overall I liked her a lot. Like I said before, the rest of the characters were great, including Doc, the mysterious man who seems to be far too close for comfort, and, my personal favorite, Babs, Emily's nosy journalist best friend, who became a lot more involved than I expected. I even liked Will, the handyman who turns out to be a lot handier (get it? get it? lame pun over) than Emily first thought.
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The story was what really had me hooked. While Frome was a bit vague (necessarily, I realize) when describing the events in the book, it was still fast-paced and well done. The suspense kept me up late reading and the drama made me feel more connected to the events in the story. The book was definitely plot-driven, and even though the characters were slightly weak at times, the mystery never unfolded too fast or too slow. Frome is an expert at giving readers just enough to keep the hooked and not enough to lead to conclusions. I have to admit I couldn't figure out the mystery to the end, even though I was guessing the whole way. Which is always a good thing in my opinion, in murder mysteries.
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The writing, while not outstanding, is definitely fitting and captures the feel of the novel. Maybe I'm just not as accustomed to adult novels as most, but I found myself slightly put off by the stark descriptions and flat monotone of it all. It did allow for some more plot twists, though, so I can appreciate the strategy Frome puts to use. But overall, I really enjoyed this as a slightly light, fantastically mysterious read. I'd recommend it to fans of realistic novels and mystery novels.
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Covering the Cover: The cover is simple, and though not particularly eye-catching, it is standard adult-novel-esque, so I don't mind.
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Writing: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4 stars

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