Thursday, July 23, 2020

Review: Death With a Dark Red Rose by Julia Buckley

Death With a Dark Red Rose (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery, Book #5)
by Julia Buckley
Release Date: February 25th 2020
2020 Berkley
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-0451491930
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2 / 5 Stars

Lena is starting to feel like having it all may actually be possible! She and suspense novelist Camilla Graham are busily plotting their next novel and she's got a brand-new diamond ring on her finger thanks to her fiancé, Sam West. The only blot on her Blue Lake life is a strange new corporation that has come to town called Plastisource. They seem to be intent on gobbling up prime real estate and changing the landscape of Lena's lovely adopted home.

When she and Sam get a call from their good friend (and Blue Lake detective) Doug saying that his girlfriend--and Lena's pal Belinda--isn't answering her phone and missed a date with him, they all head out to her home. The trio is shocked to discover that Belinda's purse and phone are at her house, along with a single red rose on her countertop--but Belinda herself is missing. Has she been abucted? Could the strange new corporation play a role in her disappearance? Lena is determined to find out and rescue her friend because she knows that the truth can be stranger and much more deadly than fiction....

My Thoughts
Death With a Dark Red Rose is the fifth book in the Writer's Apprentice Mystery series, and while I really enjoyed the previous entries in this series, I did not enjoy this one for a variety of reasons.  I had to push myself really hard to finish this book, and something that should have only taken a couple of hours to read actually took a few weeks because I stopped to read other stuff in between and had a hard time coming back to it.  

Normally I love this author's writing style as she is usually expressive and interesting, with a lot of good wordplay and dialogue between her characters.  I found this book to be quite repetitive and for the life of me, couldn't figure out why there was so much information given about past and previous cases.  If this is the first book you read in this series, forget about reading previous books as she gives away a lot of serious plot points from previous books.  

What actually begins as a promising abduction case turns out to be something completely unrelated to the title: I know sometimes the publisher has the final say when it comes to choosing titles, but could they have chosen a worse one for this book? There is nothing that relates to the story whatsoever, and I wasn't able to just let it go.

Which brings me to the plot.  I have really enjoyed the previous stories by this author, and loved the mysteries that Sam and Lena had to solve, but this one was perplexing as it seemed like the author didn't really know in which direction she wanted to go.  I was really disappointed as there was one plot point in here which had a lot of potential if it had been exploited to its fullest, but it wasn't.  And there is only so much a reader can take before they shake their heads and go, No way!  I get the author was trying to keep the reader engaged and interested, but for me, it didn't work, and I found myself skipping pages as well as putting the book down for long periods of time and going off to read something else. 

Death With a Dark Red Rose didn't work for me at all.  I think I may be in the minority however, but I thought the plot was really weak, and I didn't connect to the characters the way I usually do.  I feel like she was trying to engage her readers by adding suspense that just didn't work well, like abductions. I get that this is a cozy mystery genre, but that doesn't mean you relax your standards and settle for 'trope' stuff hoping the reader wouldn't notice, especially when her previous books were so much better.  Upping the suspense by adding more twists and turns, and maybe leaving out the repetitious character stuff would be a better way to go.  I highly recommend the previous books in this series, but really feel you should skip this one entirely.


  1. it's a disappointment when an author we love doesn't quite hit the mark on one of her books. i do wonder if it was a deadline they had to reach or if they just didn't know what to do to fix the story. that is where beta readers can be a big help
    sherry @ fundinmental

    1. It does happen, and I did feel like it was a rushed and not to her usual standards. It is hard to tell without having read an interview.