Saturday, October 1, 2022

Review: Castle Deadly, Castle Deep by Veronica Bond

by Veronica Bond
Release Date: July 5, 2022
2022 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 288 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593335901
Audiobook: B09JBJ4DQ5
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher
2.25 / 5 Stars
Autumn has arrived at Castle Dark, and Nora Blake has settled into her role as an actor in Derek Corby's castle murder-mystery troupe. She is troubled, however, by the setting of Derek's fall mystery: the catacombs in the depths of the castle. Yes, these catacombs are part of a set, the skeletons and cobwebs mere props, but Nora feels uneasy in the shadowy passages beneath Castle Dark. When a man is killed during one of their first shows, the eerie catacombs become a place of terror.

Joined by her castle companions, Nora attempts to find the motive for killing a seemingly innocent victim. With the help of her handsome boyfriend, Detective John Dashiell, Nora will have to go off-script to prevent a murderous encore. . . . 
My Thoughts
Castle Deadly, Castle Deep is the second entry in A Dinner and a Murder Mystery mystery series featuring Nora and the fun castle in which she lives and works.  The first book in this series was my favourite cozy mystery last year so I was looking forward to reading more about Nora and her friends,s, but I wasn't as crazy about this instalment as Nora's angst over her relationship with Dash frankly annoyed me to no end, and I thought the mystery was lacking the depth and the twists and turns of the first book.    

One of my favourite aspects of this book is the castle and the mystery dinner/theater idea. The hidden passageways are definitely intriguing and the word 'catacombs' just opens up a whole world of possibilities in my eyes. Unfortunately, there were few mystery dinner scenes as it was shut down almost from the beginning of the book due the 'murder', so what we get are extra-long scenes of the community theatre practices.  Yes, you learn a lot about the lives and relationships about the various people involved, but it seemed the focus was on trying to bolster Nora's self-esteem and to show the reader the brilliance of Derek as a director. And as I wandered in the sentence trying to explain how boring it was, that was exactly how it was done in the book; a whole lot of nothing just to explain a whole lot of nothing. 

The mystery itself was almost non-existent.  Someone got killed, very little investigation was done, but somehow Nora managed to figure out who the culprit was by witnessing a romantic attraction between two people, and then suddenly she is in grave danger and the hero comes to her rescue.  Nope, not a fan of how this all played out.  Very little sleuthing was done, with no twists or turns, so when Nora suddenly figures it all out, I spent my time rolling my eyes.  

There was a secondary mystery that looked to be pretty interesting, but unfortunately, that one too seemed to be more about Nora walking in during a fortuitous moment and putting the clues together while the actual culprit had already solved most of the puzzle.  I wish there had been more to this mystery, or this was the mystery the author had developed instead of the other one as it would have been far more interesting.  Naturally, Nora saves the day and the castle.  

I really enjoyed these characters in the first book, but I almost DNF this book about a third of the way in because Nora's jealous behaviour towards Dash drove me nuts.  I felt like I was reading a YA novel instead of about two mature people who could actually TALK to each other. All Nora whined about for pages and pages on end was how great her relationship was about a month ago and now Dash no longer has time to every minute with her.  And then stares longingly at Derek and his girlfriend, who naturally have a moment, EVERY SINGLE TIME, she moans and whines.  Nope, nope, nope!!!

Castle Deadly, Castle Deep was not a worthy follow-up of the really amazing first book of this series.  I was incredibly disappointed in the characters, the plot, and the overall story.  I personally loved the secondary story line as I thought there was so much potential there to develop something really interesting, but the author chose to focus more on Nora and her whining.  And what I especially loved? THE KITTENS!!!  They saved this book.  I will happily recommend the first book of this series, and while I was not a fan of the second book, I am glad to see a lot of people were. I would definitely take a chance on the third book as I enjoyed the first book so much, just to see if the author can work the same magic again.