Thursday, July 19, 2012

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Murder for Choir by Joelle Charbonneau

Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Berkley Prime (Penguin)
Page Count: 294
Source: Complimentary copy provided by JKS Communications, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!) as part of the Murder for Choir book tour

This glee competition is killer...

Even as a struggling opera singer, Paige Marshall has never seen anything like the cutthroat competition of the Prospect Glen High School show choir. As their new coach, she's getting an icy reception from championship-hungry students who doubt she can take them to a first-place victory. Toughing this gig out may prove harder than scoring her big break...

Especially now that her best young male singer is suspected of killing the arrogant coach of Prospect Glen's fiercest rival choir. For Paige to clear his name, she'll have to sort through a chorus of suspects—and go note for note with a killer who'll do anything to knock her out of the spotlight for good...
What Stephanie Thinks: The competition between show choirs is fierce, but Paige's struggle to fit in at her new teaching position—while juggling a murder mystery of which she discovered the corpse (just her luck!)—even fiercer in Murder for Choir. For the most part, Charbonneau's first of the Glee Club mysteries is an amusing, fast-paced read. I love cozy mysteries, and found Paige's opera background and the Prospect Glen High's community to be a fresh, yet very realistic setting.

Paige never asked for any of it. All she wanted was a temporary job that would earn her enough to support her performer lifestyle. Her talent is renown—so what's she doing as an assistant choral director for snooty high school kids? Charbonneau wonderfully portrays the intimidation and desire for acceptance through Paige's relatively unworldly and clumsy eyes. While many of the interactions seem a bit exaggerated (I'm IN school, and have never encountered such rudeness that Paige deals with among her students), they do a good job at making her feel small, unwelcome. Add the murder of her rival director, an ill stream fate, and a small dose of curiosity (not to mention, hardheadedness), and yes: it might just be enough to do her over.

The book moves very quickly and never gets boring—that's what I love. Paige's klutziness is adorable and her humor sharp; readers will enjoy her fresh, strong-willed perspective. What I didn't favor so much was the mystery plot itself. Right off the bat, numerous suspects are listed (as Paige has the tendency to butt into situations, including murder cases, that she is instructed to stay away from). Each character Paige meets is looked at with suspicion, which doesn't leave much of a surprise nor bang at the end, when the perpetrator is finally caught. I know Charbonneau probably did this to confuse the reader and expand the pond of potential killers, but to me, it just made the conclusion dull. I like to be caught off guard, even with cozy mysteries. Murder for Choir is a fun, well-written story, but the ending just isn't worthwhile.

I don't have much to complain about regarding the writing. Charbonneau's style is acute, clever, and though a bit choppy, pleasantly straightforward. However, I didn't care for the structure of the book; it's too messy. All the events pass as a blur and none stand out significantly because the author crams too much into 294 pages. Paige attempts to solve anything and know everything, which in itself isn't a bad thing, but it does jumble the story a bit. I didn't like the inclusion of romance in this one either. Normally, I'm all for romance, but because there is no one prospect Paige is attracted to or attempts to pursue, it just adds on to the confusion. If her love interest was actually clear, it would have topped off Murder for Choir better. Heck, even if it had been expunged, and the mystery aspect of the book improved, Murder for Choir might have been better. 

There's a lot I'm criticizing here, but I'm just being picky, just recording the equation for my own ideal romantic cozy mystery *grin*. Despite my little disapprovals, Murder for Choir is light, witty book that I often found myself getting immersed in. Combining endless action with plenty of speculation, it's a crisp, modern murder mystery with a fearless heroine and a satisfying (though predictable) ending .

Stephanie Loves: "Aunt Millie hoisted herself off her chair. 'Devlyn, would you like to join us? I'm making spaghetti and meatballs.
I psychically sent Devlyn a message: Run. Save yourself.
'That sounds great. Thank you.'
Either my psychic powers sucked or Devlyn was a glutton for punishment.— hilarious!

Radical Rating: 7 hearts - Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥