Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Bowled Over by Kasey Michaels

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Bowled Over by Kasey Michaels. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Bowled Over by Kasey MichaelsBuy from Amazon.com
Bowled Over by
A Maggie Kelly Mystery

Kensington Books (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7582-0884-7 (0758208847)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7582-0884-2 (9780758208842)
Publication Date: November 2007
List Price: $14.00

Synopsis (from the publisher): Mystery author Maggie Kelly had enough on her mind wondering how she was going to keep her fictional Regency Era creation from dropping to one knee with a marriage proposal. Then a murderer crosses the foul line—way too close to home …

Another day, another crime scene.

Maggie wouldn’t mind putting a little distance between herself and the hunky Regency hero of her novels, Alexandre Blake, the Viscount Saint Just, who has miraculously come to life with talk of sweeping her straight down the aisle. But now that her parents have split up, Maggie is having trouble resisting Alex’s tender loving care. So she invites him along to visit her family. Unfortunately, they arrive just in time to watch her father being taken away in handcuffs as a murder suspect!

Thank goodness she has her very own romance hero.

The local police are convinced Evan Kelly has killed his bowling buddy, who happened to be having an affair with Maggie’s mom. It doesn’t help that Evan’s bowling ball was found next to the dead body. Her dad may have had motive, but Maggie knows he’s definitely no killer. Luckily, she has Alex riding to the rescue—and making her wonder if a happily ever after might not be out of her league after all …

Review: Bowled Over is the sixth (and according to the author, the last) romantic - comedy - mystery in the Maggie Kelly series by Kasey Michaels. This time the crime hits close to home when Maggie's father is accused of murder!

New readers of this series are likely to be confused by the relationships between the principal characters, so the author tries to provide an introduction. Maggie Kelly is the author of historical mysteries featuring the dashing Regency-era aristocratic detective Alexandre Blake, the Viscount Saint Just. Although originally just a character on the pages of her books, Alexandre (Alex) has come to life and brought with him his faithful friend and assistant Sterling Balder. Alex and Sterling live in a condo adjacent to Maggie's in Manhattan and share in her adventures. In Bowled Over, the trio travel to for the Christmas holidays with Maggie's family only to find her father, Evan, arrested for killing a bowling buddy, Walter, Evan's bowling ball being the murder weapon. Naturally it falls to Maggie and Alex to find out who really killed Walter.

This series has (had) a clever gimmick but the author (or maybe the publisher or editor) allowed it, the gimmick, to become more important than the characters or the plots. When Alex was new to the 20th, and later 21st, century, it was a treat to watch him get acquainted with the modern world in which he was living and his new-found knowledge was often incorporated directly into the plots. When he and Maggie were sparring with each other, there was a romantic tension that enhanced the storyline but never became the story. But in Bowled Over and the previous book in this series, Alex no longer sees the world through Regency eyes, and as a result he's become rather tedious. Worse still is the relationship between Alex and Maggie which now lacks the spark evident in the earliest books and seems strained and contrived.

Are Maggie's adventures real? Or are they imagined, and is each book in the series merely Maggie's previously written fictional book within an idea for another book to be written? An intriguing possibility. But readers late to the series will no doubt find Bowled Over perplexing and not only for the gimmick for it's all a bit overwhelming. Better yet, start with Maggie Needs an Alibi (the "A" book in what was clearly intended to be an alphabet sequence until the fourth book was inexplicably renamed) before judging this one.

Special thanks to Book Trends for providing an ARC of Bowled Over for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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