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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Deadly Appearances (Joanne Kilbourn #1) (audiobook) by Gail Bowen

Published by Post Hypnotic Press in 2012
Originally Published in 1990
Read by Lisa Bunting
Duration: 8 hours, 43 minutes

There are a dozen or so Joanne Kilbourn mysteries. They are set in Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada. Kilbourn is a middle-aged political party worker. She works behind the scenes helping to craft policy positions, write speeches, plan campaigns and the like.
Deadly Appearances literally starts with the murder of Andy Boychuck, a successful politician. Kilbourn has worked with him for years and he is suddenly dead from a poisoned glass of water he drank from as he began a celebratory speech.

As the book proceeds there is another murder and only Joanne has the key to solving the mystery as she struggles to put together her shattered professional life and deal with her own issues as a recent widow (her own husband died a couple of years earlier).

Lisa Bunting does a great job with the narration. She delivers on all of the emotions of Kilbourn – the frailty, the anger, the tenderness towards her own family. As a plus, Bunting’s accents are excellent.

But, quality narration does not overcome plot holes, the highly telegraphed ending and the poor pacing.

This mystery does not really get started until the book gets halfway done. The first half of the book is spent dealing with the emotions generated by the death of Boychuck and an incredibly long description of his funeral. The book is endlessly descriptive (clothes, hair colors, the weather, furniture, yards, food, drinks) but just fails to generate any sort of steam that propels it forward.

*******Spoiler Alert********

Most unforgivable is the treatment of the minister who is involved in a homosexual love triangle with a married man (the other man is married and involved with two different men at the same time). While it is true that some denominations accept openly gay ministers (and his seems unlikely to be one of those since they are referred to as Fundamentalist and consistently treated as simpletons who have fled the real world by the author), they are not forgiving of ministers who are involved with married men. That is clearly the sin of adultery. In a book that is all about exploring the dimensions of a tragic relationship, this book completely ignores this minister’s flock’s reaction to his choices.

*******End Spoiler Alert*******

Having read a little about this author, the consensus is that this first book is the roughest. I can believe it. If the other books maintain her high quality of development of realistic characters but eliminate the problems mentioned above this series could really be something special.

I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed on December 18, 2012.

Note: I received this audiobook from the publisher at no charge in exchange for an honest review. This book can be found on Amazon.com here:Deadly Appearances (Kilbourn series) 

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