Title: Broken Promises (A Past Imperfect Mystery)
Author: Anne Willow
Genre: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Published: August 17, 2017
Inheriting an antique shop, Past Imperfect, from her favorite aunt gives Julia Crawford a reason and motivation to walk away from her adulterous husband, Graham.
With barely enough time to be considered a resident and accepted into the touristy art community of Grand Marais on the shores of Lake Superior, Julia is the prime suspect in a murder investigation. The story was at twenty-five percent by the time the murder occurred, so I looked forward to a slow-build in the investigation.
Without giving away spoilers, I can say the “investigation” was a letdown for me. Small town law enforcement is sometimes painted as backward and ill-equipped, but Sheriff Jack Barrett was portrayed as more than capable and crime scenes were processed using forensic science.
Which is why I couldn’t understand why Julia was ever a suspect simply because her fingerprints were the only prints on the murder weapon. It belonged to her. And why was she the only one to question why her prints were not found anywhere else at the crime scene? It was just one of several puzzling items for me.
The spouse is always suspect number one. The wife was at the police station at the same time as Julia, but where was she during the murder? Who discovered the body? Why would Julia murder a man she didn’t know in a place she’d never been to?
I figured out who the killer was but read on in hopes of a smoking gun or plot twist.
I didn’t get either.
The supernatural element was intriguing (and heartbreaking), but even it fizzled out for me before the end. I feel Aunt Sadie should have provided more details or given Julia more guidance, especially when dealing with curses and possession. I understood Elizabeth’s pain and Thomas got no less than what he deserved, but the resolution left me lukewarm.
Lucy and Sandy were good supporting characters, but much like Julia, they seemed to contradict themselves in every other scene.
Graham Crawford…ugh! It was annoying Julia had to remind herself of his true character and how badly he treated her to stand her ground. Granted, she was a woman in transition, but none of her memories or internal thoughts of Graham warranted him having any kind of pull or power over Julia.
Grammar and editing issues are minor. But while I don’t need dialogue tags in every sentence, conversations ran together and at times it was difficult to know who was speaking. I appreciate good scene description but getting through some paragraphs was exhausting with the number of adjectives used.
I didn’t fully connect with Broken Promises, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recommend it. Other readers may enjoy its simple, laid back delivery and uncomplicated storyline.
As it is book 1 in the Past Imperfect series, we haven’t heard the last from Julia Crawford and the residents of Grand Marais. I would read the next book to see how the series progresses.
***FIRST IN NEW COZY MYSTERY SERIES***
Julia was in a search of a way out…a way back to herself.
The passing of her favorite aunt sends her to the small artist town of Grand Marais, nestled along the northern coast of Lake Superior. There she starts to weave the tattered threads of a new life, rediscovering her love of sketching, while running the antique shop, Past Imperfect. Everything is finally going right. Until a mysterious package arrives, tucked inside is an ornate silver letter opener bearing the initials E.C. along with an even more mysterious note. Julia’s natural curiosity piqued, but before she can discover who sent the letter opener, it’s found embedded in Tom Peterson’s chest. The tapestry of her new life begins to unravel as she is named a prime suspect. Now, left with few clues and a past not willing to let her go, Julia works to solve the mystery and the murder.
Infidelity through time and a curse that only she can break – once she figures out how.