Glen Gardner, NJ, United States | Member Since 2014
I almost didn't read Murder of a Snake in the Grass because I had read a review that said this wasn't a cozy mystery and full of unpleasantness. I have to disagree with that. I found this one to actually be lighter than many others. There is a lot of lighthearted silliness which goes on in relation to Skye and her several love interests. There are some delinquent boys but they really don't get a whole lot of screen time, just enough to remind us that school psychologist is a bad job. I don't want to give anything away but Skye finally settles on one guy by the end of the book. We finally get the backstory on Skye's failed engagement. I found the performance of Skye's ex to be sort of tedious, but I can't speak to whether the accent was accurate. I suspect accents are just not the narrator's top skill. Basically this was good and in line with the rest of the series.
I am not sure why I see complaints about the narrator. I liked her quite a bit. I felt like she was Mattie and that Mattie was a very likable character. For a good chunk of the mystery I did not know who did it though I did guess before the end. I also found myself laughing at times at Mattie's antics. Basically I found this to be a fun, light mystery. I did think the sexual references were a bit much. They weren't offensive or anything just Mattie spends a lot more time thinking about the hunky detectives private parts than you might think the state of her life calls for. And of course when she is in the middle of doing her laundry and has to run out without a bra on, it doesn't take a genius to know what's going to happen. Still, it was a light fun mystery, and there's even a cat (always a plus to me). I will definitely get the next in the series.
I normally wouldn't stop reading a book and then review it but I am making an exception here. I want to review it so other people know what I know but I didn't want to spend any more of my life listening to it when there are so many other books. I should listen to samples before buying books too so at least I would have known about the really strong theatrical English accent the narrator uses. I am not a big fan of narrators with accents but sometimes they are OK. This one I found made it hard to understand what was being said. Between the accent and the slang I got lost a lot, and add on to that the content which involves a lot of stream of consciousness and cutesy word play, I have never listened to a book so poorly suited to be an audiobook. If you like these sorts of very British books with clever wording and stories of lives of quiet desperation, maybe this is your book. BUT I suggest you read it rather than listen to it. I am not sure why I picked this out in the first place - something in the description caught my interest but I think I will avoid books like this in the future. The last straw for me was a scene where a man was walking through a park (that much I got) and I thought he was talking to his mother, then he seemed to be talking to his dead father but I wasn't really sure, and I could never tell which comments were said aloud and which just thought. If you can't tell whether someone is talking to themselves, or a live person, or a dead person, I think it is time to move on to a different book. So I will.
Basically I like all the Scumble River mysteries. I very much enjoyed finally seeing some progress in Skye's love life too. The mystery was ok but I confess to enjoying the characters as the primary attraction. So that may be why it bothered me that although most of the voices have not changed, May and Bunny sounded totally different. Was so weird after getting used to everyone to hear Skye sound like she always did than her mother suddenly sound completely unlike herself. I think the previous voices were much better. I hope this resolves by the next book. The story line being set in a spa gives lots of opportunities for various comments to be made about Skye's weight, appearance etc. I confess to be a bit bored having to dwell on her chubbiness all the time. I also remember Skye commenting at some point (might not have been this book) about eating healthy despite no longer dieting. Skye does a lot of eating (even when it is forbidden at the spa) and she is always chowing down McDonald's, or piles of meat potatoes and gravy, or bags of candy and chips. I think she's a little deluded. But in the beginning of the book especially I was getting tired of people being so rude to her. Some unresolved threads from previous books do get wrapped up in the one, which is nice. As usual I plan to go on to the next in the series.
I REALLY enjoyed this book. I want to say first off though that anyone with no binge drinking experience just won't get it so they might as well skip it. The perfect audience is what I was, someone who has recently had a bad hangover that led them to wonder - am I just that person who should never drink? And, is that even possible? We follow our formerly binge drinking health reporter through totally relatable, and often funny, sometimes sad, situations. I should mention that I normally hate when narrators have strong accents. I have a horrible time understanding them and find it unnecessary. In this case, while heavily accented the reader is clear and the accent and local slang are more atmospheric than annoying. The book at times can get a little statistics heavy, and I didn't necessarily agree with everything (for example, I never saw an issue with alcohol ads during sporting events) but overall I found the book very interesting. One thing that stuck with me was the comment that not drinking at all was what people did when they found moderate drinking to be too hard. There is also the drama of what our heroine will do when her time is up. Kept me interested all the way through.
This book is Hota telling of her interviews with 6 people. I found the stories interesting. However, I did not really get how the stories really belong together. Even the subtitle "Six People Who Faced Adversity and Transformed Their Lives" isn't entirely accurate. I really think she just thought these were six good stories so wanted to make a book but any real connection for all six is a stretch. The final story is about a woman who went from choosing to live a subsistence lifestyle to owning a multimillion dollar company. Is the adversity being poor when choosing to live that lifestyle? At any rate, each story on it's own was interesting but a few things did bug me. Our first story deals with a woman who after being in an abusive relationship and losing her kids, leaves the guy, loses hundreds of pounds and regains custody. She later becomes a life coach. This is inspiring except that one question kept popping into my mind while listening and Hota never asked it. The woman after gaining her kids back, moves in with another guy shortly after that, then another guy after that. It seemed to me like she always had to have a man and never got comfortable just being herself. It seemed so crazy after what she put her kids through to move them in with another guy right away. But Hota never asks her about that. After that story was a woman who survived cancer and went on to help cancer patients by getting the medical community to deal with issues of fertility loss differently. Those two made me think our book was about people who suffered something them went on to do something for others. But the next two stories were a little off from that. I was fascinated by the woman who recovered from epilepsy and became an ultra marathoner. (I had never heard of ultramarathons.) I am just not sure how that fits the theme. Similarly there is man who stops doing drugs after his sister is murdered and helps to influence the prosecution of her killer. There is also the man who helped a burn victim on 9/11 only to learn later his sister and niece had died that day. That is certainly a powerful story but I kept waiting to see what he was going to do and that was apparently just be a regular happy guy. So although the stories were interesting, I don't think Hota or her book added anything to them.
I enjoy all the Scumble River Mysteries because I have become attached to the characters. The narrator is always great as well. There are a few things that prevent this one from being a favorite. I was very much looking forward to some exciting changes in Skye's love life in this book. I had gotten tired of her previous relationship and was very much looking forward to a new relationship in this book. But it never really makes progress. Skye spends a lot of time being obsessed about "taking it slow" and when she does get about to get close to her new man, something prevents it every time. So that was a letdown. The mystery was okay except that it was the only time that comes to mind where I knew who the guilty party was way before Skye did. She seemed a little clueless this time around.
I am one of those people who is fascinated by hoarding and I have watched a ton of shows on TV about it, but this book was so much better than those shows. Getting to know the characters better and seeing them change over time really added dimension that is missing on those TV shows. It was particularly interesting to watch roles within the family change over time as Miller transitions from the child to an almost parental role in dealing with her parents. It is amazing how the background of challenges created such a strong person. I liked too that this was a book about a challenging childhood without being one of the many abuse memoirs. I liked Miller's narration too once I got over wishing she would speak just a little louder.
For those of you who enjoy Skye and Scumble River but find her and Simon to be a bit goody goody and dull sometimes, this is the book for you. I had gotten bored with Simon, and in this book he isn't around much and Skye seems pretty bored by him too, so finally she was up to some more exciting things in her personal life. There is a lot of relationship drama with various couples in town in this book as well. It also shakes up the status quo because Skye is not in school in this one, she is running an enormous yard sale. As tends to happen there are a number of snooty newcomers in town trying to bully Skye and her small town cohorts. I did not know who the killer was in this one. At any rate I enjoyed a little something different in this one and am looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next book. And not too much Bunny in this one either - she only made me cringe once, though it was a big cringe. Narrator does a great job, voices are all spot on.
I am a Scumble River fan and have enjoyed all the books in the series so far to various degrees. (I am not sure these would work well as stand alones - a lot of what I enjoy about them is from getting to know the town and its people in previous installments.) I think this one is definitely a step up from the last one, which was not a favorite. This book gets back to the focus on small town life and a lot is going on. We have a school dance, a mayoral election campaign, a developer trying to buy up farmland for an amusement park, drug dealing, a new bowling alley and of course. murder. Skye has a valid reason (other than her natural nosiness) for getting involved this time around since her brother Vince has managed to get himself in yet another sticky situation. I was getting a bit annoyed for a while with the depiction of all law enforcement though. I mean how likely is it that the police department of this small town has totally failed to notice a sudden meth problem and that they would need to be educated about it by Skye whose knowledge all came from some printouts someone gave her from the internet? Speaking of the internet and technology in general, this book has a dated feel (paperback is from 2004) because Skye doesn't know anything about the internet and cell phones still seem very rare. Emailing the police chief doesn't seem to be a possibility and Skye has to go to his house to reach him. In all fairness I think today's technology makes it harder to write mysteries. At least we don't go through all those elaborate reasons for some character not to be able to use their phone. (I remember a Rita Mae Brown mystery where there were so many unlikely occurrences happening just to explain why things that could have been resolved or avoided quickly by a cell phone call are not.) Swanson has her own quirks. In general I enjoy Skye even if she and Simon are a little too goody goody to be entirely accessible, but I can see why a friend says she is annoyed that Skye has to constantly go over her status as a plus sized woman - there are constant references to her curves, her bulk, her padding, etc. She gets attacked in this one by a mean spirited thin woman for her dessert consumption. Seriously though, Skye does eat a lot of cake! I didn't find Swanson at her most believable in the drug part of the plot, everyone just seemed so naive. But I enjoyed the small town atmosphere and the complex overlapping plot pieces and have already downloaded the next in the series.
I would think that in general if you have read all the books in this series, that you would want to read this one and that you would enjoy it. Penny really makes you feel connected to these characters. The end of the last book didn't linger on the happy ending so I was happy to return to the peaceful world of Three Pines and get back in touch with our characters in a more relaxed post retirement time. The book is really a search for a missing person rather than a murder investigation. I found it less stressful that the previous books. I have to say that at various times I really wished I remembered some of the past books better particularly A Rule Against Murder and whichever one had the Gilberts in it. You get a lot of what you expect from Penny - long deep discussions about art among other things and you wouldn't have gotten this far in the series without being able to enjoy or at least tolerate that. This is definitely not a stand alone book - none of them really are. I have always found the author to be more interested in Peter Morrow than I was, but he's actually more interesting when you just talk about him rather than have him on screen. There's some touching sadness at the end, and some over the top perhaps not entirely believable aspects of the mystery which may annoy some readers but I was satisfied with it overall.
Report Inappropriate Content