Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: "Defending Angels"

How the hell did I manage to pick up and purchase a cozy mystery? A legal cozy mystery? A legal, paranormal cozy mystery? It was that damn front-end marketing stores do that nab you at the bookstore checkout. (I buy more useless magazines and plastic bookmarks there than I know what to do with.)

It was the cover of Mary Stanton’s 2008 novel Defending Angels that caught me. It’s a really cute illustration, tombstones and all. (Can tombstones and spooky trees really be "cute?" Yes. Yes, they can. In a place I like to call Megan-land. You should visit. It's fun.)

The set up: I got cocky. I really did. I’d been watching the Jane Austen BBC movies. I joined JASNA. I thought I was ready to traipse from the Regency romances written by modern authors into the Georgette Heyer arena. Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no…NO! I got lost in the Faulkner-esque sentences Heyer peppers her dialogue with. And they’re so proper. Nobody notices bosoms or man swells. Nobody really flirts inappropriately. People mostly behave as they should and somehow manage to fall in love somewhere in there (though I’m not sure I can ever find the turning point in her stories. I just turn the page and they’re quoting poetry. Bah.)

Anyhoo, I gave up mid-stride in Heyer’s “Faro’s Daughter.” Bad, me. Bad, bad, bad. I was bored. I wasn't reading it much when I had the time. I passed it on to my mother, who read Heyer back in the day and had fond memories of the writer. Good for her.
Randomly, I had looked up the definition of cozy mystery and was directed to Cozy Mystery List, a fantastic web resource for folks interested in that genre. After spending time at the site, I was one of those folks and when I happened upon this ghosty-looking cozy, I was in.

The official description: “With a long list of ethereal clients who need her help, Savannah lawyer Brianna Winston Beaufort's career choice is beginning to haunt her . . . An already dead businessman needs Bree's help to find his murderer and prove his innocence against the charge of greed, which comes from the mightiest hand of the law, the Celestial Court. And the verdict in this case could put Bree's life on the line-as well as her client's afterlife.”

The hook: Legalese. Afterlife. Graveyards. Savannah, Georgia. A lawyer new to town with a dead man as a client and a hunky PI entangling himself in her affairs. Renting an office on the bottom floor of a building constructed in the middle of an all-murderers' graveyard. I like it.

The verdict: Without giving away too much, this was one of those moments of serendipity where the stars aligned right and the right shade of yellow caught my eye at the checkout counter, causing me to look down and notice Ms. Stanton’s book. I’m glad I did.

Bree is a fantastic heroine. She’s smart. She’s got instincts. She rescues dogs from steel traps. She has annoying, overbearing parents. She sees ghosts. All the while staying believable. This story was honestly, incredibly interesting from start to finish. A celestial court? Nice.

There was the potential for romance, and it’s definitely a possibility for future volumes. Ms. Stanton leaves plenty unfinished (in a good way) and has begun what seems to be an incredibly promising series. Even for someone with no usual interest in legal dramas or cozies.

I can’t say enough good things about the book, but I’ll say one more. The next in Bree’s story is out. Angel’s Advocate was released on June 2, 2009 and I’m thrilled.

About the author:
From the author’s Web site: Mary Stanton has written two adult novels and eleven young adult novels. She has also written for television. Mary divides her time between a goat farm in upstate New York and a winter home in West Palm Beach. She also writes under the pen name Claudia Bishop. Visit Ms. Stanton’s Web site here.

No comments:

Post a Comment