Monday, February 13, 2023

Review: The Crime That Binds by Laurie Cass

by Laurie Cass
Release Date: October 4, 2022
2022 Berkley Books
Kindle Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0593197738
Audiobook: B0BGMKV4WM
Genre: Fiction / Cozy Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.25 / 5 Stars

Late March is prime reading weather in the small northern Michigan town of Chilson. Though snowfall and cloudy skies deter outdoor activities, life inside the bookmobile is warm and cheerful. As Minnie and Eddie make the rounds to deliver comforting reads, Minnie witnesses bookmobile patron Ryan Anderson speeding away. When Minnie discovers the police want to bring him in for questioning about a bank robbery and the murder of a security guard, she realizes she's one of the only people who thinks Ryan isn't morally bankrupt.

When an additional murder victim is discovered, the police immediately suspect her patron, but Minnie isn't convinced. And when she encounters Ryan hiding from the police, she decides to help him by investigating the crimes. But with multiple crimes comes the potential for multiple criminals, so Minnie and Eddie will have to fight tooth and claw to prove his innocence.
My Thoughts
The Crime That Binds is the tenth instalment of the normally fun and interesting Bookmobile Cat Mystery series, but I found this one more difficult to get through as I found Minnie seriously annoying. I just couldn't understand why she would get so involved in helping someone she's only met through the bookmobile, has no real idea who he is, but has convinced herself that he is innocent and requires protection, and involving herself in the investigation.  
First of all, Minnie and I have a love/hate relationship as it stands.  I have not always been fond of this character because I have found her annoying in the past, but it was always the cat, Eddie, as well as the story lines, that redeemed the books for me.  Because Minnie has behaved herself over the past few books, she has become a more interesting character, and I have liked her a lot better. Characters need a reason for what they do, and there is no reason for Minnie to take the risks she does in this book that are plausible.  With several other characters having issues, it also gave Minnie a reason to meddle, something that felt just off in this book.  I know that no one has a perfect relationship, but to make people miserable, like Ash and Chelsea, just to have a story line and to have Minnie give some relationship advice and make her seem the hero, seems like a plot stretch to me and felt off, like the author was searching for issues, but couldn't really find plausible ones.  By the time we found Chelsea crying in various places, I was almost ready to DNF the book. 

The plot of the book, while it had an interesting premise, dragged a bit.  Honestly, too much time was spent on the characters to the detriment of the story, and I think it was because the story line was a bit thin to begin with.  The author has Minnie doing some silly things and asking some silly questions, and this is the first book in this series where I was rolling my eyes constantly.  And then she goes and misses the biggest question of all, the one that was staring the reader (and Minnie) in the face and gave you the clue to who the murderer was, and crosses said murderer off her list. I remember thinking, Aren't you even going to ask the most obvious question? Nope, she doesn't and goes along her merry way. The type to be murdered first in a horror movie, honestly, because she's clueless. And how does someone manage to take off so much time from work to investigate? She's always leaving work to go do something.  This isn't to say there weren't some good moments in this book as I always love it when old characters return and we get to see what they are up to, but unfortunately, that doesn't make up for the murky plot and a main character who was irritating, to say the least.

The Crime That Binds did not work for me, and is my least favourite of the books in this series.  Unfortunately, the plot rambled on, Minnie's reactions and actions were not believable, and Minnie's meddling wasn't interesting. It felt like the author was scrambling to come up with some interesting plot points, and when you put them all together, unfortunately, it was not cohesive. The only thing I did like was Eddie, especially when he stomped all over Minnie's clues. That about sums it up.