Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mystery Book Review: The Poetry of Murder by Bernadette Steele

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of The Poetry of Murder by Bernadette Steele. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

The Poetry of Murder by Bernadette SteeleBuy from Amazon.com

The Poetry of Murder by
 A Geneva Anderson Mystery

Oak Tree Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-892343-08-8 (1892343088)
ISBN-13: 978-1-892343-08-6 (9781892343086)
Publication Date: January 2008
List Price: $12.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): During her time at the International House of Chicago, aspiring African American poet, Geneva Anderson has met people from around the globe, listened to debates about world issues and celebrated the arts. But with the arrival of a new year, Geneva will also discover that an inheritance can be a blessing and a curse.

After her aunt, Victoria Franklin, the director of the International House of is murdered; Geneva’s life is unraveled by a mysterious inheritance and a murder charge. With the help of her best friend, Zain Valdez, Geneva decides to investigate her aunt’s murder.

Geneva’s investigation leads her to the revelation that her beloved aunt led a secret life and that the list of suspects even includes her academically accomplished neighbors.

To clear herself, she must navigate through a web of lies, secrets, and revenge until she learns the poetry of murder.

Review: Bernadette Steele introduces poet fellowship recipient Geneva Anderson who is suspected of killing her wealthy aunt in The Poetry of Murder.

Geneva is staying at International House while composing a book of poetry as part of her studies. Her aunt, Victoria Franklin, is the director of the facility. (Note: International House at the University of Chicago is real place. Its mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding, mutual respect and friendship among students and scholars and on the part of the people of metropolitan Chicago toward individuals of all nations and backgrounds.) When Victoria is murdered in a ritualistic fashion, Geneva becomes a suspect. Her motive: she is the sole beneficiary of $10 million. When she's released on bail, Geneva is determined to clear her name and identify the person, or persons, who killed her aunt.

As the first book of a series, The Poetry of Murder has much going for it. It introduces an appealing character in Geneva Anderson, and the setting of International House that offers a multitude of scenarios around which to construct a series of mysteries. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, Geneva plays a subordinate role to her supporting characters that are more richly drawn and seem to have greater dimension. For example, the detective in charge of Victoria's murder, Yvonne Peterson, has a much larger profile than Geneva and is arguably more interesting.

Though the plot of the book is intricate and well-thought out, the narrative at times seems disjointed or incomplete, failing to deliver on the promise of the intrigue behind the murder. Part of the problem here is that there are too many points of view. Virtually all of the principal characters have something to say, and many (maybe most) do not contribute to the continuity of the story in any meaningful way and are simply unnecessary distractions.

The Poetry of Murder provides a good introduction to a series worth watching, but tighter and more judicious editing of subsequent books will be required to maintain readers' interest over the long term.

Special thanks to for providing a copy of The Poetry of Murder for this review.

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

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