Death by Inferior Design - Leslie Caine
Would I have read this book if I hadn't bought it for a dollar? Welll....let me rephrase that. Would I have read this book if I hadn't owned it, returned it and then bought it for a dollar?

Don't know. But I'm glad I bought it for a dollar.

Why?

The story itself was bogged down with too much decorative information and not enough plot. When doing a cozy mystery it's a balance and most writers don't have that ability. When I'm reading a cozy mystery I don't want it to sound like something that was copy and pasted from a Wiki page. While Ms. Caine is a licensed interior decorator, I found those parts dry and even found myself skipping over them every once and awhile.

The story itself, and by story I mean plot, didn't actually start until about halfway into the book. Yes, we received some teaser clues but they weren't useful until much later. Also, if it's supposed to be a Gilbert and Sullivan novel, how about including him much more. Pet peeve ambiguous orientation of a character when you are building him up to be a possible interest. I know that it may happen in real life but if Erin was half as good as picking up details she would know there wouldn't be "hmmm, I wonder" Taking things at face value does not serve in a business like Interior Decorating .

The lingo is a bit old and both Erin and Steve seemed a bit underdeveloped. Yes, it becomes a story about Erin but it came out of extreme left field that it took me several chapters for to give a damn.

Also, there were no descriptions of the characters. I run into this a lot with cozy mysteries so this isn't a huge complaint against Ms. Caine but if you're a mystery writer, you can still use description. It doesn't have to be all cut and dry. Even Hammett gave description (anyone else remember Sam Spade and his "V's"?) and it's something that should be employed at all costs. Romance takes a back seat in a cozy mystery, I understand that, but it's still a good idea to employ adjectives. I don't need to know something is "yummy", I need it explained why it's yummy.

Come on people.

As a whole, this book isn't horrible. It did pick up about half way through and though Steve isn't shown very much throughout the story, I did enjoy his scenes. Erin is way too shrill when she's with him and he's way too defensive and sometimes their witty repartee can come out of (regular) left field.

I'd like to see more of Steve, a better rounding of ALL main characters and a different set up with Audrey's chapters (do we really need a larger font, a design and a completely different font for those chapters? The answer is no).

So, I hope the plot development starts picking up faster, the decor information gets incorporated a bit better and the characters become richer (and perhaps more modern) and that Audrey gets a bigger role.