Review: Real Murders, by Charlaine Harris

I thought I’d try some mysteries, and my wife recommended this one:

It was all right, but ultimately I did not find it very satisfying. It was well written, and the first-person narrator was both interesting and compelling. The crime was fairly interesting, and it was fun trying to keep track of various bits of information, hoping to track down the murderer before the narrator did, and that part was fun.

Where it failed for me was in the killer’s motivation, but that was mostly the nature of the beast for this particular crime. Someone was committing murders just for the fun of it, to commit crimes reminiscent of famous murders, from political assassination to Lizzie Borden’s famous forty whacks. So, when the killer was finally unveiled, the motivation was simply that he/she was a nut-job.

Personally, that wasn’t very satisfying to me. I wanted it to be something like, “Jane did it because she stood to inherit the family fortune,” or “Walter did it as revenge for what happened back in the war,” or something like that. There could be multiple motives for the murder, and that would be fine – even desirable. This would have filled the book with meaty motivations like jealousy, revenge, greed, and so on. Yeah, good and ugly stuff like that.

As it was, the motivation was essentially missing, and that meant it could have been any of the characters who was actually a quiet psychopath. That left me feeling like the ultimate unveiling of the killer was random. Of the dozen suspects, the dart landed on Pat, so Pat is the psychopathic killer. The evidence in support of it seemed to have been tacked on, little bits of proof sprinkled through the book to prop up the random selection.

So… it was okay, but not really good. It’s the first book in a series, and I may give another one a shot. After all, it was well written, so the author knows how to spin a yarn. I just happened to be disappointed by this particular tale.