I review about a dozen or so books a year for GLBT Reviews, the review blog of the GLBT Round Table of ALA. We just had a chair switchover, and the new chair was encouraging all of us to seek out newer titles to read and review so that the blog could stay more current. I had just gotten my Audible credits for the month, so I figured I’d find something newly released, write up a review, and contribute to the common cause. So I downloaded Murder at Pride Lodge.
Okay, first things first: although the audio was newly released, the book came out in 2012. So I can’t submit a review to alternate sites, but that’s just something I’m going to have to live with. But to do a review anyways:
This was not my cup of tea. At all. And while I’m not normally a mystery reader, I can be grabbed by a good enough story in any genre, but there were major flaws with the execution of this book. In no particular order:
- For a 200 page book, there were A LOT of characters they wanted me to care about. The story follows Kyle Callahan and his partner Danny Durban as they go away for a holiday weekend at a LGBT lodge in Pennsylvania. But Kyle’s old friend the handyman mysteriously dies their first night there. Mix in a decades old murder with a lesbian assassin come to even the score, a geriatric mysterious old man, the couple that now owns the lodge, the bartender, and an awakening lesbian police officer, and there’s just a lot of characters to keep track of. The story is told in a third person omniscient style, so we keep jumping in between these characters thoughts to see how they truly feel about things. But instead of making me feel informed, it just removed dramatic tension and it forced me to attempt to care and empathize with too many characters. For the first in a series, I ended up finding the main character to be like the 4th most interesting person on the page.
- The conclusion came out of nowhere. Obviously spoilers ahead. But Kyle realizing from one off-hand comment that someone went from hapless husband to the executor of a triple homicide…come on. The fact that said husband hid his trail almost perfectly for the first two and then bungled the third murder in a full hotel with way too obvious clues…I don’t buy it. The idea that the lesbian assassin would drive away without committing the murder she was there for and that had been her entire life’s work…it feels weak. The satisfying conclusion that mysteries build to was a flop, and this really fell flat for me.
- The amount of exposition and back story was truly unneeded. I don’t need to know about the problems in seating people for a party at an upscale restaurant that Danny works at. I don’t need to know the career trials of Kyle’s boss. I don’t really care about the history of the lodge and who built and when and where their partner died on the grounds five years before this story even starts. I just want this story, and all the rest of this can come up organically through the characters or it can be ignored.
- The repetition. Good god, the repetition. Did I say the repetition yet? Because there was repetition. At least four different chapters re-reviewed the lesbian assassins reason for committing her crimes. We riffed on the woman in a man’s world riff with the lesbian cop about three times. The importance of photography to Kyle. The cats that Danny and Kyle own. We repeatedly hit on each of these things. Once is a bit of exposition or character development. Multiple times makes me feel like the author thinks I’m stupid and I just don’t remember it.
I think it kind of goes without saying that the rest of the series isn’t in my To Be Read pile. But at least it got me back to reviewing on this blog.
JMF Rating: 3.5/10
‘Til next time,