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Thursday, February 04, 2021

Does the Appealing Outweigh the Annoying in Cozy Series Opener? Maybe, Maybe Not.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Quinn Caine has always loved her quaint hometown of Vienna, Virginia.  After attending college and teaching English abroad, the 25-year-old is back to stay.  Working as a book binder at her family's charming shop will hopefully let her make a decent living while spending time with her kin and getting reacquainted with old friends.  With her German Shepherd, Ruff Barker Ginsburg, by her side, she's all set to make a new life for herself in Vienna.

The past comes calling when snooty Tricia Pemberley goes out of her way to flash her new engagement ring in Quinn's face.  The former beauty queen, who's set to marry an old flame of Quinn's, loves to stir up drama where there isn't any.  Quinn couldn't care less about the pending nuptials, but when Tricia ends up dead, suspicion turns her way.  With the help of Sister Daria—her cousin-turned-nun—Quinn vows to clear her name.  Although Detective Aiden Harrington—her older brother's hot friend-turned-cop—warns her against Nancy Drew-ing her way into trouble, Quinn won't rest until she finds out who really killed Tricia.  Can she solve the case before she becomes the next victim?  Or will her new life in Vienna end before it ever really begins?

To Kill a Mocking Girl by Harper Kincaid is the first book in a new cozy mystery series starring Quinn Cane.  Vienna is a real Virginia town and it makes for an appealing background.  Kincaid creates a warm fictional community for Quinn that is composed of a tight-knit family, quirky townsfolk, a hip nunnery, and a lovable canine.  This is by far my favorite thing about To Kill a Mocking Girl, which is otherwise a pretty so-so tale.  The mystery is predictable, the plot is contrived, and the interactions between certain characters (Quinn and Tricia, for instance) are melodramatic and silly.  Quinn comes off as likable, but also ditzy and immature.  And she is not at all convincing as a bookbinder.  Despite these irritants, the book is upbeat, entertaining, and fun.  I'm still trying to decide whether the annoying things about this first installment outweigh its more agreeable aspects.  Will I give the next one a go?  Maybe, maybe not.  We'll see.

(Readalikes:  Most of the cozies I read are more culinary in nature, so I'm drawing a bit of a blank here.  Ideas?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. There is just something about small town settings that makes a story worthwhile. Sorry the mystery in this novel was lucklustre.

    I hope the rest of the series will be better for you.

    1. Agreed! I love me a small-town setting, especially one that is done well. This one felt warm, friendly, and quaint.

  2. Your C+ rating sounds pretty generous based on some of the things you point out. I doubt that I'd be giving the second one much of a chance. I have a real bias against "cute" titles, though, so I probably wouldn't have given this one a chance either.

    Man, I'm feeling cranky this morning. I'd better shut up. :-)

    1. True, true, but I've read some truly awful cozies and this one was a little bit better than average. Punny titles are par for the course with cozies, so that doesn't bother me.

      Maybe a nap is in order? That always helps me :)

  3. I think I'll probably pass on this one. I've been reading mostly cozies lately and my patience with ditzy immature main characters has basically dropped to nothing. It is one I'll keep an eye on thought and if Quinn grows up a bit I'll probably pick it up.

    1. To be fair, the MC is only supposed to be 25. Still, I felt like I was in a bad high school drama with some of her conversations. Yikes! I hope she does some maturing before the next book. I don't mind a bubbly, fun-loving heroine but I don't want an immature ditz, thank you very much!

  4. The setting in this one does sound delightful, but I do understand your concerns with the actual mystery. Just because it is a cozy doesn't mean it can't still be intriguing!

    1. Right? I like cozies that have some substance, but those are hard to find, especially those with contemporary settings. I usually find the historical cozies more substantial.

  5. Same! I used to be completely anti-cozy because they're so silly and unrealistic. However, in the past few years I've come to appreciate them for the light, fun reads they are. I'm picky about the ones I like, though. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to a certain point, but if the murders are totally far-fetched, I'm out. I also like interesting characters and warm relationships, so I'm always on the lookout for that kind of cozy. What are your favorite cozy authors/series? I'm still a cozy newbie, so I'm always looking for recs ...

  6. The second book might end up being better than this one. Might be worth a try.

  7. I love quirky small town characters in a cozy. I do like to have a mystery that isn't too easy to figure out though.

  8. I rarely read cozies (I tend to be picky when it comes to this genre) but I'd probably give the second book of this series a try if I were you. Maybe it'll get better as the series go. ;)


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