The Twinning Murders
by Shelly Frome
Release Date: September 27, 2010
2010 Beckham Publications Group, Inc.
Softcover Edition; 228 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review Copy from UK & Beyond Book Tours
3.5 / 5 Stars
The Twinning Murders is a modern day classic mystery centering on the ventures of Emily Ryder, a thirty-something rambler and tour guide. The story opens just before she embarks on this year's Twinning: a ritual exchange between her historic New England home and its sister village deep in Dartmoor, a wild upland area in the west of England.
Presently, Emily becomes involved in a suspicious death that affects her personally. A few days later, at the Twinning itself, her main client meets the same fate. As Emily's world continues to unravel, and though she has little help, she finds herself compelled to piece together the games being played on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Gordon Development Company has shaken up the small community of Lydfield, Connecticut, a community that prides itself on its laid-back ways. With the advent of a large condominium complex on the horizon, people are desperate to either get in on what they see is a piece of the money pie, or voice their concerns that the development will change the sleepy town ways forever. Chris Cooper, roofer and head of the town's planning committee, had many concerns over the new development, and after finding a loophole in the Company's plans, finds himself the victim of several nasty pranks, ending in his death after a nasty fall from the roof. This is where the story first becomes an intriguing murder-mystery as Emily sets out to discover the people involved in Chris's death. The Twinning Murders is an interesting tale set in two very different communities, with definite links to each other in ways that I didn't suspect.
What I really found interesting about this novel were the characters. I was especially fond of Pru despite her vague ways and found her personality to be fascinating. She is that type of character who reminds you of the elderly neighbour you had on the street when you were little, the one who baked you cookies, yet always seemed to have her mind on something else. She was endearing and sweet, but at the same time, she could be irritating too. Yet, you just couldn't help but enjoy her nor stay mad at her for long. While I found Emily to be a strong character, I just couldn't feel the empathy or sympathy that I think was needed to bond with her as a reader. I understood her feelings and emotions, but I didn't connect with her on any level and felt detached from her a lot of the time. This takes away from the reading experience for me. I couldn't place my finger on it, yet I just couldn't seem to connect with her. Will, I enjoyed, although I don't really know what he saw in Emily as I thought she was always too cold and elusive around him.
While I enjoyed the plot to a certain extent, I can't say that I found it truly engrossing. There were times when I had to re-read entire sections because my mind drifted off and I couldn't stay focussed on what I was reading; I didn't always find the material absorbing or interesting. This has nothing to do with the more formal writing style as I have read this type of British 'cozy' before and enjoyed it tremendously. There were moments I really enjoyed in this story, but I found parts of it to be too disjointed for me. I did however, enjoy the descriptions very much and think Mr. Frome's writing style when describing atmosphere and setting was extremely well done. I did have the pleasure of reading Lilac Moon several years ago and his writing style when it comes to description is amazing.
The Twinning Murders is an interesting murder mystery story set in both the United States and in Great Britain. I truly enjoyed the characterization and the development in most of the characters, and as always, the descriptive language is always well worth reading in any of Mr. Frome's work. While I don't feel this novel lives up to Lilac Moon, it is still worth picking up and having a look, especially for anyone looking for good, clean, 'murderous' fun.