Saturday, January 14, 2023

A Streetcar Named Murder - A New Orleans Mystery #1

A Streetcar Named Murder is the first book in a new cozy mystery series by T. G. Herren set in New Orleans . Released 6th Dec 2022 by Crooked Lane Books, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a light and often humorous cozy featuring an unwilling amateur sleuth who is in the process of figuring out her life and her place in it after a bereavement and empty-nest lifestyle change force her to re-examine her possibilities. She's young, under 40, and a recent totally unexpected bequest has turned her life upside and forced her to examine what she's going to do with the rest of her life, including her immediate future.

I was surprised how well rendered the (mostly female) characters were. The author has a definite knack with making them feel three dimensional and fairly believable. It's a light cozy, so there are over-the-top situations and dialogue, but despite the constraints of the genre, Mr. Herren manages to sneak some deeper thought provoking ideas into the story: self-determination & growth, found family, good people doing bad things out of love, amongst others. Additionally, it's absolutely *full* of minutiae about behind-the-scenes Mardi Gras culture and the workings of the different krewes who are part of the pageantry. The author seems to have a limitless knowledge of NOLA customs and it made for fascinating reading.

The book wasn't entirely archetypal: when the murder/crimes occured, the local police didn't immediately focus on railroading the protagonist in a wildly inappropriate persecution, the mystery is more linear and less "twisty" than many, and the story concentrated more on background world building and character development than red-herrings. I like this setting and the characters a lot and am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Four stars. It will appeal to fans of Lauren Elliott, Vicky Delaney, and Ellie Alexander. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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