Friday, November 16, 2012

Scrambled by Kathryn Elizabeth Jones

ScrambledTitle: Scrambled (A Susan Sleuth Mystery)
Author:  Kathryn Elizabeth Jones
Publisher: Createspace
Published: August 22, 2012
Format:  Paperback
Pages: 250
Source: Received from the author 
in exchange for an honest review
Read: November 8 2012
In A Few Words: Unusual, egg-centric
My Rating: 2 Stars

What happens to an unhappy woman who leaves her husband only to discover that she may have just made a terrible mistake? So horrible, her choice threatens to end her very life?

Susan believes that the grass is greener on the other side. Not that her current life is bad, necessarily; it's just boring and lifeless, kind of like the old matted rug on her dining room floor. Susan thinks her marriage has just grown - well, old. Her husband, Bob, has gained tremendous weight and continues to gain, and his health suffers. She must work at a job she hates full-time to provide the little sustenance they have. He, on the other hand, works very little (because of his health) and prefers spending his days watching television or surfing the Internet. Besides, there's her problem of not getting pregnant that can't help but contribute to his unhappiness.

Can Susan continue to live her life at the hotel knowing that she might be killed herself or imprisoned for life? Will she be able to find the real murderer with the help of the eccentric Ms. Martha Boaz? *Synopsis from Amazon

Melissa's Musings:

A few months ago Kathryn stopped by my blog to talk about What Your Reading Genre Says About You. I learned quite a bit about my own reading preferences from her post. Recently I read her book, Scrambled.  Here are my thoughts on it.

I have to start out by saying that I don't read cozy mysteries all that often. I actually can't remember the last time I read one before this one. Maybe it's because I don't read them all that often, but this one didn't exactly blow me away.

The book starts out by having us learn that Susan is unhappy at home, with an inattentive husband who really likes to eat junk food. One day she just up and leaves her job and her husband and starts a new life.

I was actually frustrated from the start because I didn't really know why she was leaving. Yes she was unhappy with her life and her husband, but we don't really get to see much of their interaction together to get a real feel for the environment and her dislike for him because the book starts out immediately with her leaving.

I was also a little frustrated because it didn't really make sense that she could just up and start over with no resources. She tried to change her identity too, by giving  herself a new name, but that doesn't work completely because she slips up when talking to one of the tenants of the hotel where she lives and cleans rooms.

There's a death in the story and Jenny/Susan seems hesitant as to whether or not it's murder. Not a bad thing to question, but it seemed like she was unsure of herself a lot and the questioning the underlying story itself which made me question the story as a whole. Susan/Jenny is  a nice enough character. Likeable, a decent person, a little too gullible maybe. But, she flip flops a lot. She can't decide whether she still loves her husband, and when she finds that someone else likes her (won't say who to prevent spoilers) she goes back and forth with him too. He's willing to be patient but she sees him as a nuisance or someone who's only a friend. She doesn't really tell him so until a lot later in the book though. I suppose I was just hoping to see her grow stronger as a character throughout. She does, to a point, but I think I was hoping for more. The strongest, most decisive action she takes is leaving her husband.

The eggs. 

Oh my goodness, the eggs. At first the mentions of Susan/Jenny eating eggs when stressed or sad was a cute touch. Then it turned into a bit of an obsession. She is constantly eating eggs. Or making omelets. Or egg casserole. There are exactly three instances where Susan/Jenny doesn't eat eggs. One when she's making a frozen dinner of a chicken leg, one where she's eating a steak and having a raspberry vanilla soda, and one where she's eating "something that looks like a burrito." The rest of the time it's all about the eggs. I almost wish I had counted the scenes where there are eggs so I could compare the numbers.  I understand that there's a deeper metaphor behind them, but I think that the mentions could have been pared down to a handful and it would have been fine.

At the same time, I do like that there is a recipe included at the back of the book. And at the end, Susan was hopeful and eager to start making her own baked goods. Add food details and you've got my interest, what can I say?

The mystery of the book does keep you on your toes at points, but at other times it can just be too confusing. I think that some of Susan/Jenny's debating about if there were a murder contributed to that confusion. I do have to say that although I thought I had it all figured out close to the beginning of the story, I didn't know for sure who did it until the end.

 There are really good details about all the characters, so it's very easy to see them in your mind as you read. And these are quite the mixed up bunch of characters if I ever saw one. I definitely wanted to know more about these characters.

In terms of dialogue and formatting and pace, the story is a quick read. It's paced really  nicely and there are only one or two sections where it drags slightly. I have to say that I found the dialogue to be a bit stiff in places, with phrases like "the murderer of my son" and things like that. Also, in the last chapter or so of the book there are several words and phrases spread over a section of pages that are italicized. As I was reading initially I thought these were for emphasis, but as  I continued to read it seemed to me just to be a formatting issue, so that was a tiny bit distracting.

Overall, this was an okay story, it just wasn't for me. I'd definitely recommend that readers who are more familiar with cozy mysteries give it a try though.

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