Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Out Comes the Evil by Stella Cameron

Out Comes the Evil: A Costwold Murder Mystery (Alex Duggins Mystery, Book #2)
by Stella Cameron
Release Date: December 1st 2015
2015 Severn House Digital
Ebook Edition; Kindle
ISBN: 978-1780290782
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.5 / 5 Stars

Once again Alex Duggins and her veterinarian friend Tony Harrison are thrown into a major murder investigation. An almost fresh body is discovered in a disused well among the ruins of a 14th-century manor house ... the motive for the killing a baffling mystery. The victim was a widow who had lived quietly in the picturesque Cotswolds village of Folly-on-Weir for the past ten years. Who on earth could want her dead, and by such brutal means?

As rumour and speculation engulf the town, another woman is attacked – and Alex discovers that behind a tranquil face lurks a cunning and vengeful mind. Despite warnings from the police to stop interfering, she finds herself in the sights of a ruthless killer who has decided she knows too much ...

My Thoughts
Out Comes the Evil is the second book in the Alex Duggins mystery series, and it was pretty much the same as the first; decent, but predictable.  While the novel tends to be more of a traditional English mystery, which is what I was looking for, but I had trouble empathizing with the main character and I definitely didn't understand some of the things she did.

First of all, I like the traditional English mystery and was hoping this novel would deliver.  With a body discovered in a well among the ruins of an old castle, it had the makings of a good mystery, but I was sort of let down as the story moved along.  I did enjoy the setting however, and could picture the pub that Alex owned quite clearly in my mind as well as Tony's cozy cottage.  All I wanted to do was spent an afternoon sitting around the blazing fires, having a beer, chatting with friends while it was raining outside - the mood and setting were definitely to my taste.  When the author really wanted to, her descriptions of the place just made you want to go there and spend some time amongst these people, but at other times, the writing was stilted and a bit inconsistent.   I also found the characters' motives to be quite unclear at times and it made the story a bit confusing and inconsistent; for example, Alex went to try and get information from a certain person who very quickly turned on her and led to a series of events that frankly, were quite unbelievable.  Suspension of belief in a fantasy can be acceptable, but in a murder mystery, it makes it seem fake and silly.  

I am not a huge fan of Alex as a main character; I find her to be silly and a bit reckless too.  One of the things that has always eaten at me is the expectation of characters in some of these mysteries to be told confidential information from the police about on-going investigations as if they have a right to that information. That turns me right off and Alex is one of those who has no problem inserting herself into investigations without regard for anyone else, and then is affronted when her boyfriend gets mad at her meddling.  She had even gone so far as to withhold information from the police in this one because she was doing her own investigation, continually telling everyone around her that she was not getting involved because of what happened last time - hypocrisy, no?   

Out Comes the Evil is one of those books that I was hoping would be a good traditional mystery, but it didn't turn out to be that at all, at least for me.  For the most part, I did like the characters, with the exception of Alex, but found their development to be a bit lacking; I really felt like the author was trying too hard to have a variety of characters which made them seem a bit stilted and stereotypical, like the Major, rather than fitting seamlessly into the story line. The plot itself started off rather strongly, but quite quickly grew rather mundane and I had a hard time finishing it.  At this point, being rather disappointed, I'm not sure if I would read the next book in the series