Author: Frankie Bow
Publisher: Kindle Press
Publication date: July 19, 2016
Please note I received a free copy of this book through Amazon’s Kindle Scout program.
Summary: In the fifth installment of the Professor Molly Mysteries series, Molly Barda is a new wife and stepmother to one of her former students. As summer starts at the beginning of this cozy mystery, Molly has big plans for the next three months, none of which involve her new in-laws visiting, missing jewelry, and a murder. As she attempts to navigate these new relations and figure out who left a body behind, she decides it’s time to have a baby, soon finding out her stepson has beaten her to the punch. With a house full of new relatives and a baby, a constantly busy new husband, and the task of teaching a bunch of police officers for free, how will Molly have time to figure out who killed her new sister-in-law’s ex?
Okay, this is a mystery so let’s discuss that first. Wait. Seriously, wait. You wait until about 35% into the book for a dead body to appear. That’s right. Over a quarter into the book. Sure, there’s a somewhat intriguing theft that occurs earlier on, which is cleared up way too easily and way too late into the book for my tastes. It helps introduce us to the police and Molly’s less than happy relationship with her husband’s son, but, honestly, I forgot about it until it was solved much, much later. Then, when the real mystery starts, Molly is more interested in navigating around and avoiding her new relatives. I didn’t feel there was much detective work going on. Some questions here, some snooping there, but nothing too involved. Sadly, this was a little too light on mystery for me, even for a cozy. I even had to double check the genre, and was simultaneously confused to learn this was book 5, but, sure enough, it is part of a mystery series. I expected Molly to be more invested in the mystery and a little less obsessed with escaping her visitors in order to accomplish her own summer goals. Honestly, by the end, I felt the mystery had been dragged out way too long and the wrap up too sudden and convenient. But maybe I’m missing something. After all, this is book 5 and I skipped the first 4.
Ignoring the mystery, The Blessed Event is the story of a newly married college professor trying to navigate personal and professional relationships and responsibilities. While trying to conceive. With a perpetually busy and exhausted husband. I’ll get to THAT later. In particular, I loved the emails from her students. Being married to someone who used to teach college students, I found them to be hilarious and, sadly, not too far off the mark. Molly’s life clearly keeps her busy and I don’t blame her for wanting to escape. Despite her great friendships with people ready to be there for her, her new relationships with her husband’s family are anything but peachy. They are eccentric and I would want to leave, too, but they are her family now and I would expect her to make more of an effort. I was disappointed that these new relationships never really seemed to evolve and Molly never really worked to cultivate them, instead spending too much of the book suspicious of her stepson and trying to escape her husband’s family. I did appreciate the impact her profession had on her life and that her relationships and the mystery were framed around it.
For a story that focuses so much on relationships, I expected the characters to be well developed. While they were each unique and distinguishable from each other, they were generally one dimensional. Molly only seemed interested in escaping. Her husband only ever seemed to work. Her friend Emma only served to help Molly whenever Molly needed her. The characters lacked depth and felt stagnant. Which means the relationships lacked depth and felt stagnant. Again, I may be missing quite a lot since I did not read the first 4 books. That aside, I found the characterization of Molly to be particularly annoying. For a professor whose job generally requires effective communication, I expected effective communication. However, she doesn’t even communicate well with her husband, snooping into her husband’s past instead of asking him about it! Her intense dislike of her stepson also impedes her communication with him, thereby doing nothing to help their relationship. Molly also ends up teaching a group of police officers and has no idea what she is supposed to be doing. On the bright side, Molly is a fast thinker, capable of getting herself out of sticky situations. Finally, Molly is a very passive amateur detective, as though she is only there to tell the story, not going out of her way to solve the crime and fleeing her chaotic home instead of standing her ground. Perhaps this is the author’s intent, but , personally, an not a fan.
Another thing that bothered me was the whole pregnancy thing. Having been pregnant with my second child while reading this book, I found much of Molly’s efforts to be absurd. For one thing, it all felt a little too rushed. Molly went to see a doctor regarding her inability to conceive way too early. Even at her age women are counseled to try for at least 6 months. There would also be no reason to schedule future appointments unless Molly has some physiological issues that might impact conception. If so, it might have been nice if Bow had written that in. Also, many women choose to wait at least 12 weeks to announce they’re pregnant, when the rusk of miscarriage is significantly lowered. People were just asking if she was way too early. I get it may have been a reminder to the reader Molly was trying, but surely Molly herself could have done that, like by not drinking so much while trying to conceive and actually spending time with an awesome husband at night. Her husband always seemed to be sleeping or too tired when he was home. So I ask: how on Earth did Molly get pregnant? And what kind of mother will she be considering her stepson’s child only seemed to annoy her?
While it seems like I hated this book, it was actually saved by its setting. Hello, Hawaii? And not touristy Hawaii. No, Now took us to the Hawaii the residents know. I admit I had a hard time visualizing a lot of it, but I appreciated the authenticity. The language, while it could have used some translation, felt authentic and was used naturally. The food sounded delicious. It felt like it could have been anyone’s home anywhere in the States, but there are constant reminders that this is Hawaii, the side you see when you live there or go off the beaten path. I loved that it was Hawaii, but did not read like a traveler’s guide.
I was very pleased that the writing was nice sand clean. There were a few errors, but nothing that really detracted. It got a little confusing a few times about who said what, but I got over it. There was a nice blend of story and information that needed to be related to the reader. Overall, it was a very pleasant book I was able to read aloud to my toddler at bedtime. The generally error-free writing also helped bump this book up to a 3, otherwise I clearly had problems with the story and characters.
Bottom line: read the first 4 books first, otherwise this was an okay book and I’m pretty sure I was missing out on some important information that was not provided in this book. Since this book is actually listed as being a satire, I suppose everything makes sense, but it makes the mystery weak, the relationships ridiculous and annoying, and Molly herself a caricature of a female amateur sleuth who could have been stronger and more interesting (and liked by this reader).
How many cups of tea will you need?
3 cups will do