Monday, December 1, 2014

ARC Review: Fatal Brushstroke (An Aurora Anderson Mystery Book 1) by Sybil Johnson

Fatal Brushstroke
by Sybil Johnson

Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press (November 18, 2014)
Paperback: 276 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1940976495
E-Book File Size: 485 KB

About Fatal Brushstroke:

A dead body in her garden and a homicide detective on her doorstep…

Computer programmer and tole-painting enthusiast Aurora (Rory) Anderson doesn’t envision finding either when she steps outside to investigate the frenzied yipping coming from her own backyard. After all, she lives in Vista Beach, a quiet California beach community where violent crime is rare and murder even rarer.

Suspicion falls on Rory when the body buried in her flowerbed turns out to be someone she knows—her tole painting teacher, Hester Bouquet. Just two weekends before, Rory attended one of Hester’s weekend painting seminars, an unpleasant experience she vowed never to repeat. As evidence piles up against Rory, she embarks on a quest to identify the killer and clear her name. Can Rory unearth the truth before she encounters her own brush with death?

Sapphyria's Review:

Rory Anderson just cant catch a break.  She's living with the stigma her parents left her at the age of two. This, in turn, has the town's Chief of Police certain that any crime committed in Vista Beach ties back to Rory - especially if it's arson.  So, when the body of a well-known socialite is found buried in her garden, Rory is, of course, suspect number one.  Then the evidence begins to mount as the murderer continues to try and frame Rory.  Will Rory be able to prove that she's innocent even while incriminating evidence shows up in her yard, garage, and car?

So many characters in Fatal Brushstroke fit the bill of potential murdered of Hester Bouquet.  For a while, the author almost has the reader convinced that it could, indeed, be Rory.  Well placed bottles, notes, and incorrectly set store alarms, plus other things, all point squarely at Rory.  As a typical cozy mystery heroine does, Rory doesn't tell the hot investigator, Detective Green, the truth or omits parts of stories - which then come back to bite her in the butt.  Rory spends a lot of time trying to get untangled from the situations that she puts herself in by lying.  She does a really good job of making things worse.

Hester's son Kevin has the makings of a murderer after family secrets are revealed and he becomes enraged.  Kevin's father, and Hester's husband, Julian also fits the bill - he's set to inherit a lot of money with Hester gone - provided that the trust fund goes to him.  Plus, he's having no problems erasing Hester from his home and life - rather quickly, too.  Trudy has her own secrets that could have lead to the death of Hester.  This novel has so many twists and turns that you really don't know who could have killed Hester and framed Rory until almost the very end.

Rory is likable, even if she's a complete idiot sometimes.  Let's not just lie to the police once - let's do it repeatedly so that there's no way anyone will believe you're innocent.  I really don't think Detective Green got his 10 seconds of fame - he should have been written into the story a little bit more.  He's capable and competent, yet I really didn't see a whole lot of detecting on his part.  His scenes were short and pretty unexciting.  I was not a fan of the Chief of Police.  Don't get me wrong, I realize that he has endured years of heartache and pain - that doesn't give him the right to slander the name of a citizen.  I loved Liz, Rory's friend, and Arika, Rory's mother.  They were unique and added to the story.

The story was a quick and easy read.  There wasn't anything confusing or hard to understand.  The dialogue between all of the characters was fluid and comfortable.  The author does a great job creating a world that grabs the reader and pulls them in, keeping them engaged from start to finish.  I really enjoyed Fatal Brushstroke.

Review copy courtesy of the publisher, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review.

Sapphyria's Rating:

Advanced Praise for Fatal Brushstroke:

I enjoyed this story and the characters and can’t wait to see what Ms. Johnson comes up with next for Rory and Liz.

This was a good start to a new series…

Fatal Brushstrokes is an intriguing start to the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series and a satisfying read in its own right. Freelance computer programmer is a pretty gutsy career choice for a cozy heroine….

“Fatal Brushstrokes” was a fast, easy read with likable characters. The setting was enjoyable and the mystery not too easy to solve…

In the short time they have been around, Henery Press has become one of the places you can go to for a cozy you know you will enjoy. And they have another winner with FATAL BRUSHSTROKE. Good characters you will want to get to know. Here and in future books. A good series setup with tole painting as a backdrop. ♥♥♥♥♥

This was a fast moving read. I was compelled to continue turning pages until the end. I also enjoyed how this book was art-related.

This is the first book in a new cozy mystery series. I have to say, if its a Henery Press book, it is going to be good, and this book is no exception…Its a fun read and a great start to a new series.

About the Author:

Sybil Johnson’s love affair with reading began in kindergarten with “The Three Little Pigs.” Visits to the library introduced her to Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and a host of other characters. Fast forward to college where she continued reading while studying Computer Science. After a rewarding career in the computer industry, Sybil decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mysterical-E and Spinetingler Magazine, among others. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Southern California where she enjoys tole painting, studying ancient languages and spending time with friends and family.

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