Why I hate reviewing murder mysteries…
Yesterday Nancy Smith and Catherine Trizzino joined us here to talk about the path and process to sharing their writer identity, Tempeste Blake. Today it’s my turn to talk about them, or more precisely about their new book, Chasing Symmetry.
And that brings me to why reviewing mystery stories
is a challenge. is a problem. sucks. Spoilers.
PEOPLE WHO REVEAL SPOILERS:
So here’s the plan. I’ll do my best to talk about this book and not end up in the special level of hell. You’ll do your best to ignore the bits I can’t say, won’t say, or accidentally say. Deal?
Chasing Symmetry by Tempeste Blake
Someone had been trying for the perfect shade of red . . .
When art professor Bianca James tries to save a dying woman, the grudge-holding chief of police is all too quick to catapult her to the top of the suspect list. As if that isn’t enough, her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother, Finn Tierny, is assigned to the case, and she’s faced with a trilogy of dilemmas: go head to head with the chief, stop a cold-blooded killer on her own, or trust another Tierny.
Finn’s return to Riley’s Peak is bittersweet. He’s flooded with memories, both good and bad, as he battles doubts about being a cop, a cantankerous father, a jealous brother, and a drug dealer with a rap-sheet longer than the list of addicts he’s been supplying.
Threats escalate, the suspect list grows, and it becomes clear—the murderer’s resolve to kill Bianca is almost as strong as Finn’s desire to keep her alive.
Book Title: Chasing Symmetry
Author: Tempeste Blake
Genre: Contemporary Mystery/Romance
Publisher: Pocket Acorn Press
Length: 336 pages
Release Date: 25 May, 2016
more info about Tempeste Blake:
My Review: 4 stars out of 5
Bianca James has a duck problem. Like her father before her, she’s an artist with a goal of winning the Wildlife Conservatory competition. After her mother died, her father had dreamed of winning with his painting of a solitary duck. Now an art professor herself, Bianca has inherited that dream and wants to win for both herself and her dead parents. Her entries feature two ducks, but she hasn’t been satisfied with any of her efforts so far. Her ducks just don’t seem to be a true pair. Perhaps her inability to project a sense of symmetry is due to the problem she’s always had with perspective—calculating those lines and angles makes her eyes glaze over.
Art—the one constant place she’s looked for peace—has failed her. Maybe it’s the problem with her ex-boyfriend Dylan, caught in a downward spiral of guilt and drink after he injured a young boy and lost his job on the police force. Maybe it’s her complicated feelings for Finn, her former student, and Dylan’s younger brother. Or maybe it has something to do with the young woman brutally attacked a few feet from where she was working on campus, who died in her arms. Oh, yeah. Maybe that.
When I started reading Chasing Symmetry, I already knew it was the joint effort of two different writers, and I wondered if they would find symmetry and a cohesive voice. The answer is that yes, the writing came together beautifully and with a terrific sense for pace and character development. Certain phrases captured moments in almost poetically spare language. “Emotions played over her face, misty-edged and cobbled, that finally angled toward yes.”
As Bianca becomes target of a murder investigation, and of a murderer, she and Finn cautiously explore the minefield of mutual attraction. Finn, who has returned to the local police force in order to be near his terminally ill father, is also dealing with his own conflicts—a vindictive boss, a self-destructive brother, and an unwilling attraction to that brother’s former girlfriend.
There were several things I really liked about this book. The authors played fair with the genre and their readers. Every clue (and a respectable number of red herrings) was put out there so readers could guess the killer, if not the motive. Even better, most of the main characters had the same motive (which I can’t reveal without going to that special level of hell…) BUT each dealt with that in their own way. Only one of them turned to murder.
“It wasn’t about circumstances, Bianca was coming to realize, but how you played the cards you’d been dealt. She also knew that what you sometimes see in someone else is actually yourself, and it was as if some part of his situation was plucking a harmonious chord within her.”
Then there were a few things that bothered me. As a personal note, I really, seriously, totally hate the love triangle. Then there is Finn’s role as a cop. In a town large enough to have both uniforms and detectives, it seems extremely unlikely that a regular police officer would be investigating a crime, let alone one that involves his close family and brother’s girlfriend. Also, there is the offhand reference to an adoptive mother as being unfit, but the only information we’re given about her is that she’s a lesbian.
But overall, Chasing Symmetry is a well-paced thriller with a nicely developing romance and compelling, believable characters. I would happily recommend it to anyone looking for a fun mystery/romance read, and look forward to the next book in the series, Dylan’s story in Chasing Gravity.
***I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***
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Very cool Barb.Sounds like a good read. I think you did well avoiding hell. 🙂
As an aside I recently did a guest post over at Mark Bialczak’s https://markbialczak.com/2016/08/14/observations/ If you have time to drop by for a read I would be honored. Thank You.
Thanks for the introduction. Looks like a great book.
Jacqui Murray said:
Good review, Barb. What a challenge–two people writing a book. I see that more and more and still can’t imagine how it works.
Tempeste Blake said:
Thanks, Barb for the read and review! Love how you describe Bianca’s duck problem and you tiptoed around the spoiler issue beautifully! Whew 🙂