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Nancy Holzner grew up in western Massachusetts with her nose stuck in a book. This meant that she tended to walk into things, wore glasses before she was out of elementary school, and forced her parents to institute a "no reading at the dinner table" rule. It was probably inevitable that she majored in English in college and then, because there were still a lot of books she wanted to read, continued her studies long enough to earn a masters degree and a PhD.
She began her career as a medievalist, then jumped off the tenure track to try some other things. Besides teaching English and philosophy, she's worked as a technical writer, freelance editor and instructional designer, college admissions counselor, and corporate trainer. She writes mystery and urban fantasy novels, including the Deadtown urban fantasy series (Ace).
Nancy lives in upstate New York with her husband Steve, where they both work from home without getting on each other's nerves. She enjoys visiting local wineries and listening obsessively to opera. There are still a lot of books she wants to read.
on Oct. 22, 2012 :
It all starts with a simple traffic violation. Then they discover the body in the trunk. What follows is a desperate quest to clear the name of an innocent man, all of which seems to depend on gut instinct, a little army training, and sheer dumb luck. As the layers of illegal activity are revealed, it becomes exceedingly clear that Bo is in over his head.
My first response after finishing this book is that it was surprisingly wonderful. I wasn't in the mood for a murder mystery when I started it, but the story soon changed my mind. The characters were engaging, and I felt completely at ease in their (imaginary) company within the first few pages. The author took care to flesh out the main players on her stage, revealing moments of brilliance mixed in with instances highlighting their very human flaws. It helped me to connect with people like Trudy and Ryan in ways that I wouldn't have expected. Then again, what I was expecting was a slew of murder mystery stereotypes. This was one of those rare instances in which I was thrilled to be wrong.
As far as the mystery itself, the plot was well conceived. The author conducted her misdirection well, mixing in real clues with red herrings. One of my greatest pet peeves with murder mystery are illogical jumps in the would-be detectives' reasoning and plans of action. Bo's behaviors felt natural rather than forced, his thought processes believable and easy to follow. Some of his success fell upon serendipity rather than skill, but these events only required some light stretching of the imagination.
That brings us to the writing. Even in this plot-driven story, the tone and word choices made me feel as if I were inside of Bo Forrester's head. The pacing was, in a word, comfortable, and the dialogue was particularly well done. Within the span of a short conversation, I could get a feel for individual characters' personalities, even filtered through the mind of a biased storyteller whose freedom is on the line. You won't find much lyricism or poetic waxing here, but then, Bo isn't exactly the type.
Peace, Love, and Murder is one of those unexpected gems that one comes across every so often. There is much more that I could say in its favor, but in an effort to minimize spoilers, I will instead encourage readers to see for themselves.
Hide and Read
(Review copy provided by the author)
(reviewed long after purchase)
on May 11, 2011 :
Bo Forrester continues to find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It begins by a police officer finding a dead body in the trunk of his cab and escalates from there. This book had me interested the entire time, trying to figure out "who done it." A very good read.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)