Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review/Giveaway: Fatal Brushstrokes by Sybil Johnson


SYNOPSIS

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weekends before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend painting seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?


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REVIEW

I was a bit surprised to have the crime already committed at the book's open, but that was a good thing.  That is unusual.  In a genre (such as cozy mysteries), there are certain conventions to which a book will adhere.  It follows then that having something to distinguish one's work from amongst the crowd makes people sit up and take notice.  I certainly did.  My little reading radar was twitching madly!

Rory and Liz's friendship is great.  You know they are close because with half a dozen words over the phone from Rory, Liz knows that something is wrong.  Of course, communication is as much about what is not said and non-verbal clues, but a good friend would pick up on that.

Each chapter seems to bring a new thread or two (no wait, tole painting and the outdoors figure into this mystery) plant or two to the garden, another color or two to the palette.  Why is the body found in Rory's garden?  Either she is the murderer or someone is planting evidence (*groan* I know) against her.  Does someone hold a grudge against her?  (It certainly doesn't look good for Rory as she turns out to be the child of the couple responsible for the chief of police's family's arson deaths.)  I am NOT saying the Chief is in any way responsible but does this make it easier for him to believe the mounting evidence against Rory?  An interesting psychological angle.

Fatal Brushstrokes is an intriguing start to the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series and a satisfying read in its own right.  Freelance computer programmer is a pretty gutsy career choice for a cozy heroine.  I know it is written in 3rd person, but I had a very 1st person connection to Rory's experiences.  I felt I was seeing what she saw, feeling what she felt, etc.  I am excited to see where this series will take us!

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

(photograph by Nicole Ortega)


Sybil Johnson grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Frequent trips to the library introduced her to the Land of Oz, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Bilbo Baggins and a whole lot more. She fell in love with mysteries reading Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. In junior high, she discovered Agatha Christie.

After high school graduation, Sybil moved south to attend the University of Southern California, majoring in Computer Science. After twenty years of designing and writing code and managing programmers and software development projects, she turned to a life of crime writing.

Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-ESpinetingler MagazineKing’s River Life Magazine, Crimson Dagger, and Silver Moon Magazine. A past president of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles, Sybil also co-chaired the 2011 California Crime Writers Conference. In her spare time, she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages (Ancient Egyptian and Coptic are her current areas of interest), and spending time with friends and family.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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(Disclosure:  I received an e- copy of this book from the author and publisher via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. You're welcome, Rebecca. There are few things better than winning a book, eh? :O)

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  2. This sounds like an interesting new series. Made me think of Columbo - we see the murder first and then go along for the ride in finding out how it is solved.

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    1. Wow, that takes me back, Gran. I loved Columbo - kind of beat up, but still got the job done. :O)

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  3. Replies
    1. It was a very entertaining read, Kathy! :O)

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  4. I love finding a new series to read. This one sounds really promising.

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    1. Me too, Sue! Usually, I only catch up by the 5th or 6th installment. :O)

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  5. I like the idea of the crime being committed before the story opens. Unconventional is usually an interesting element, for me.

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  6. What I really love here is the sound of the friendship between the main characters. I like it when people are so close the other person is practically family!

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