I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Death by Misadventure by E.E. Smith
Series: Alexis Smith #1
Also in this series: Russian Roulette, Bad Blood, Prescription for Murder
Published by Phoenix International on November 16th 2013
Source: ARC from publisher
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The sign on her office door reads "ALEXIS J. SMITH - Discreet Inquiries", but a new client of her fledgling detective agency seems to think it means Murder Incorporated. The client, one Kate Faraday, is a former schoolmate (Sacramento High, class of '41) who wants to hire Lexie to find her husband, Frank. During their initial interview it becomes clear that she doesn't want him back "dead or alive," she wants him dead!
If it were anyone else, the intrepid young private investigator would never have taken the job, but there is a problem. Lexie herself has been in love with Frank ever since they were all together in high school. She makes a desperate decision to find him and warn him of his wife's mad intentions.
She travels to England and finds Frank staying at a country inn called The Old Vicarage, next to a little Norman church still haunted by a 12th Century ghost. What she discovers reveals a woman bent on vengeance, not only on her husband, but on Lexie, as well. Are they both marked for murder? How all this plays out, and culminates in a shoot-out at The Old Vicarage, is the climax of the story -- but not the end.
I liked the flashback to Alexis’ younger years. It revealed a lot about her character and motivation and I got more invested in her. Later, she was still pretty young and lacking experience, but she came across as a strong woman most of the time and I respected her.
I may not have agreed with every decision she made but I could sympathize with her. View Spoiler » Marrying young and not for love (and knowing he would die in the war) wasn’t the best idea, but perhaps not loving him made it easier to deal with the possibility of him dying. Still, she was remarkably calm when realizing he was falling for someone else. All the same, I know the feeling, and that makes it easier to understand her more objective view of events. « Hide Spoiler
It was kind of ironic, though, that her viewpoint was so objective, considering she was (or should have been) so emotionally invested in the case (which is never good, but still). So in a way, it was good that she was able to keep her head so well. Very admirable.
Alexis: I felt like we really began to know her through her backstory, which she explained towards the beginning of the book. She also seemed one of the few rational people in the whole story, though she was still inexperienced in her field.
Kate: Total nutjob.
Frank: Similarly a nutjob. His lack of fear (or perhaps comprehension of the situation) was deadly and irrational. Also I find it really unlikely that he would remember Alexis so well after all those years, much less still be infatuated with her…
Harry: He was so nice. I knew from the first meeting that he would be around for a long time. But I did think that he gave Alexis a little too much free reign, even when he knew she was in a lot of trouble. Honestly I’m surprised he didn’t get the police involved sooner. But considering he was one of the most supportive of Alexis, I can’t think too badly of him. I hope we see more of him.
I really liked that it was set around WWII. I hadn’t really expected that but it was a nice surprise. I like historical fiction because it helps me understand history better (not my best subject) because it’s seen through the eyes of those who actually experienced it, not like textbooks where it’s only written about later. And I’ve always been interested in the WWII era. It was really intriguing (and eye-opening) to read about the issues Alexis faced as a woman with a career and ambition. At certain points I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe he actually said that to her!’ But I’m sure that’s exactly how women were treated. I’m glad Alexis at least earned some respect. But I was glad the book wasn’t that war-heavy. It was done very well.
It was a truly fair ending. It did indeed end in ‘death by misadventure’, but thankfully I hadn’t grown too attached to those who ended up biting the dust. There was karma involved. And while it wasn’t a completely happy ending, it was mostly. I actually hadn’t expected there to be a sequel when I found out there were more books. I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll be continuing with the series.
- predictability (or lack thereof)
Less than perfect:
- narrator’s tone (at times)
- certain characters’ believability