Monday, May 29, 2023

A Mischief of Rats - Nell Ward Mystery #3


A Mischief of Rats is the third book to feature ecology conservationist Dr. Nell Ward, by Dr. Sarah Yarwood-Lovett. Released 28th Feb 2023 by Bonnier on their imprint Embla Books, it's 420 pages and is available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. For Kindle Unlimited subscribers, this book is currently included in the KU subscription library to borrow and read for free. The previous 2 books in the series are also currently available on KU to borrow.

This is a diverting series featuring an intelligent female ecologist who finds herself in a dangerous and difficult situation when the murder of a flamboyant "bad boy" race driver occurs on her family's estate during a rally event and threatens to draw her family into danger and scandal. Although it has the bones of a cozy mystery, there are elements of procedural and some slightly more graphic violence and descriptions than are usually present in cozies. The usual romantic plot elements are present in abundance and for readers who don't like any romance in their cozies, proceed with caution - there's an semi-unresolved romantic triangle here with added family drama courtesy of Nell's boyfriend's family which has racial overtones (Nell is caucasian and her boyfriend and his family are ethnically Indian).

The main protagonist is a conservation ecologist and it's a profession which she shares with the author. It's an oft-said proverb that authors should write what they know, and Dr. Yarwood-Lovett has done just that; describing the realities of crawling through muck to collect water samples and collecting and analyzing diatoms in (human) bone marrow with gleeful abandon. 

The book is full of science tidbits and trivia and for me, that was the highlight. Without being pedantic or lecturing, the author pulls back the curtain on tantalizing bits of nature most never see. There are technical terms bandied about, and there are some places (courtroom expert testimony) which require a little more attention on the part of the reader - but they're relatively few and far between and I think most readers will have no problem understanding the jargon from context.

Four stars. It does move slowly in places, but the author does a thorough job of building up the characters' back-stories and settings. Definitely looking forward to finding out what comes next. This book has a self contained mystery arc, and so it works well enough as a standalone. With three books extant currently, and at least three more planned, it would be a good choice for a binge/buddy read.

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

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