I’m very excited to feature in a Book Tour with Silver Dagger Tours! I’ve had the honor of receiving a copy of Casket Case by Lee James, one of my favorite authors and I’m ready to share my review with you. Also, keep scrolling! There is a Giveaway! Yay for gift cards!
Cynthia Shade. That’s her name. She has ADHD and cynophobia. That’s just a fancy way of saying she’s terrified of dogs. Not all dogs mind you, just the tiny ones that come at you with their razor-sharp fangs and frenzied eyes. To make it worse, she can’t find a job, rather, she can’t keep a job, and she’s about to be evicted. Just when she gets a glimmer of hope she’s blackmailed into trying to solve a murder.
Cue the handsome sheriff who awakens real interest in perpetually single Cynthia, and a cast of crazed suspects. One of whom is determined she doesn’t make it out of this adventure alive.
And here is my review!
Title: Casket Case: The Cynthia Shade Mysteries – Book1
Author: Lee James
Release: December 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Goodreads Link: Here
Cynthia Shade is terrified of dogs. Not all dogs mind you, just the tiny ones that come at you with their razor-sharp fangs and frenzied eyes. To make it worse, she can’t keep a job, and she’s about to be evicted. Just when she gets a glimmer of hope she’s blackmailed into trying to solve a murder. Cue the handsome sheriff who awakens real interest in perpetually single Cynthia, and a cast of crazed suspects. One of whom is determined she doesn’t make it out of this adventure alive.
First of all, I am a big fan of Lee James. This book had a tidy cast of characters that were VERY easy to keep up with. To start, Lee didn’t bog down the story with a ton of secondary characters. Everyone we meet has value and is memorable. This makes it really easy to connect with them. I think most authors want their main character to be a readers favorite, and Lee nailed this. Cynthia Shade is absolutely my favorite character. I love her smarts but also her demure personality. I also fully relate with her struggles. Being a young woman who is still trying to find her place in the world and get some success is literally my life. As Cynthia watches others succeed all around her, her reactions felt very authentic.
The world of this very fun book was easy to see and well crafted. Like any good crime fiction, the importance of a setting depends on many things. Lee does a good job of showing us the places we need to see and other places that we don’t. For instance, Cynthia’s apartment is really not that important. It’s like a placeholder for her life and the interesting events she experiences all happen away from there. For this reason, Lee doesn’t dwell on a ton of descriptions or time spent there. We kinda get in and get out, just like Cynthia. Other places however, are so well described and focused on because they are pivotal to the plot. Some homes and locations must be well understood to follow the story and Lee makes it easy for us to see these important places.
I heavily enjoyed the plot of this story. I will admit, the crime was easy for me to predict but I read tons of crime and mystery so I’m pretty familiar with the tropes. Even with figuring out who did the crime, I still thought the plot was fun and it kept me fully engaged. This book is about so much more than a crime. With the excellent character development, Cynthia’s life is a big part of the plot too. Then there are the supporting characters and their secrets. As we unwind the web of deception we get pulled away from the original crime, even though it is always in the back of our minds. This is an excellent way to get us fully invested.
The major theme in this book is discovery. Discovering a killer, discovering a motive, but also discovering oneself. Cynthia’s whole journey is about battling her desire to be one thing when others want her to be something else. Cynthia is trying hard to do what she wants to do for herself but others have plans for her. Doing what she has to do to survive has occasionally left her in debt to others, but she was quick on her toes and managed to pull herself out of quite a few jams!
Lee has a great way with words. Nothing is overly complicated, dialogue feels real and the book was easy to read. There was very little repetition which I am a stickler about, and I don’t have any complaints about this book. It was very enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it to a reader who is looking to get started with Crime Fiction and Mysteries. It’s a fun book that has characters who don’t take themselves too seriously, it made me laugh and I can’t wait to read more of Cynthia’s adventures!
About the Author
Lee James writes stories of hope and redemption. Whether it’s fantasy, mystery or historical fiction, her beautifully awkward characters traverse a dark labyrinth on their journey to a hopeful end. She is vehement about the importance of creating and preserving the sanctity of the written word. In that vein, she supports literacy programs and her local libraries. Most importantly, she supports her fellow writers. When not writing, she enjoys photography, watching The Simpsons, and of course, reading.