Retro Reading: Plaster and Poison by Jennie Bentley
Christmas is on the Horizon. So is Murder
In the town of Waterfield, ME, the Christmas season has arrived and so has murder along with a few suspects.
As the third novel in the Do-It-Yourself Mystery series, plaster and POISON (Jennie Bentley) Avery Baker is anxious about the arrival of her mother, Rosemary and step father Noel for a two week visit, while helping her friend Kate prepare for her wedding to the town's police chief, Wayne Rassmussen.
Kate has hired Avery and boyfriend Derek Ellis to renovate the carriage house behind her B&B and on the day of Rosemary and Noel's arrival they find a body of which is from Kate's past. The list of suspects grows while Avery seeks to find the identity of who had carved the initials WE and ER into a wooden post in the house.
From here it kinda gets worse. For most of the book the mysterious initials really aren't mentioned since Avery has put the recent murder on the front burner along with trying to help Derek figure out where his step sister has disappeared to. Beatrice (the step sister) just vanishes from work one day and it's up to them to find what happened to her.
As the novel progresses Bentley goes off on different tangents. However, I was thrown off the killer's path once, but the other elements of the story are too easy to figure out. The outline of the book should have been published rather than suffering your way through the 287 pages.
Again, this isn't a page turner, nor does it really hold your attention. The first two novels in the series aren't that great and if Avery was designing my house, I would have passed on her services. Really, who wants a Parisian inspired theme in their house or window boxes hanging from a skylight? It reminded me of a bad home remodeling show.
Bentley isn't a horrible writer it's just this series is so bad. There were many missed opportunities and I truly like the setting of a small ocean side town. The characters themselves should have been developed more and as I said before, when Bentley comes up with a gimmick she generally has all of the characters doing it. In particular, they "turn on their heels" quite a bit and there's still that over the shoulder talking.
Like in the previous installments Avery's too busy planning her next design and too much of the dialogue and description is constantly repeated. The plots never seem to advance which makes for boring reading.