Up In Smoke – Book Review

Up In Smoke (Hart of the Smokies Book 1)Up In Smoke by Chanacee Ruth-Killgore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ruth-Killgore’s cozy whodunit takes aim in small-town America where everyone knows everyone’s secrets, until the death of the community-beloved owner of the camp-grounds is discovered to have been a murder.

Abigail Hart returns to bury her Uncle only to find that things are not as they seem. She’s aided by many friends, but not everyone has her best interests at heart.

What worked:
The small-town atmosphere was inhalably realized. The town had its quirky personalities, history, and a great deal of funny stories shared between the characters.

Abigail (Abby) as a protagonist was relatable and easy to get behind.

The prose was smooth and had a great balance between description and narrative. Never once did I get tripped up reading the book.

Important in any whodunit is the list of suspects. Early on in the book, I thought I had pegged the correct killer. I was both pleased and displeased to have gotten it wrong in the end.

What I would’ve liked more:
The pacing felt staggered to me at times. That said, at about the halfway mark, things moved at an energetic and enjoyable pace.

Abby as a protagonist was easy to relate to, but ended up being a little generic. I would’ve liked to see her conflicting with more of the characters in the story to draw out her defined edges a little more.

The list of suspects in whodunits usually stand out clearly since it is usually shown that many different people all had motive (and opportunity) for the crime. This book didn’t follow that genre cliché (whether intentionally or not on the author’s part, I’m not sure) and it left me guessing not only whodunit, but whydunit. Perhaps that was intentional, but it left me feeling a little too much in the dark. Perhaps re-reading the book will prove this point moot, but I can only go with what I’ve done so far.

Final Analysis:
A fun, cozy murder mystery. Well-written with a few pacing hiccups. A whodunit that does set up some good red-herrings (which actually got me), and an unconventional twist on the genre formula (I’ll let you decide how you like that).

4/5 Stars – Recommended for fans of the Genre and non-Genre readers to whom the setting/style appeals.

View all my reviews

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