An aging (retired?) jazz musician, Wade Lovett, who hasn’t worked a gig in a long time, is currently living in a trailer park and is dating three different women. When one of the women is discovered dead, Wade is one of the prime suspects.
I am slowly becoming a fan of mysteries and I’ve noticed that in addition to having strong writing and/or tremendously interesting characters, most mysteries have a unique ‘hook’ – something that each subsequent book will utilize to make its place in the genre stand out. I know of mysteries that center around horse racing. Books that are from the viewpoint of a forensic scientist. Books with characters hobnobbing with famous personalities from the 1930’s. Mysteries with cooking themes. There is no end to the unique flavors of mysteries.
What drew me, then, to this book was what I expected to be unique hook. In every description I’ve read of this book (on Amazon, Goodreads, Netgalley, etc) it is always mentioned that Wade Lovett is a former jazz musician. As a lover of jazz music and a with a new-found appreciation for mystery books, this seemed right up my alley. Care to guess how much Lovett’s history as a jazz musician comes in to play in the story? Zero. It could be said that he was a retired baker, or a former high school art teacher, or a fast food restaurant manager for all that it matters about his history. What matters is that he’s poor, living in a trailer park and that one of his three lady friends suggests that they get married so that he might be covered by her insurance.
Lovett doesn’t seem to get too upset by anything, keeping a low-key, laissez-faire attitude about everything, including the fact that he’s a suspect in a murder case. He accepts the offer of marriage (for the sake of convenience) and just as with everything else, he’s pretty low-key about it. When it looks like his now-wife might have poisoned the other woman out of jealousy, he gets a little curious and concerned, but again stays pretty calm. When he is attacked, pushed, and kicked, he stays pretty calm (and wisely doesn’t fight back).
This is a cozy mystery, and I’ve come to understand that cozy mysteries might stay relatively low-energy, but I really wanted something to happen. I wanted someone to get passionate about something … whether it was about each other, or solving the murder, or playing jazz on an old saxophone!
That said, I did kind of like Wade, and I appreciated his situation (though I’m not sure how someone so low-key managed to have three girlfriends) and I found that the book moved along fairly crisply. It was an easy read, in this sense. Still, in a market glutted with themed mysteries, this one isn’t going to stand out particularly well. I would need to really be hooked by the tag line or book description to foray into Happy Acres again.
Looking for a good book? Fans of cozy mysteries might really enjoy Death Comes to Happy Acres, by JT Moss – the writing moves the story along well, but there isn’t much excitement or passion in this mystery surrounding a former jazz musician.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
* * * * * *
Death Comes to Happy Acres
author: JT Moss
publisher: Kenmore Books
paperback, 257 pages