The Serenity Stone Murder, by Marianne Jones (Split Tree Publishing, 2014)
When Margaret reluctantly accompanies her friend Louise to a spiritually questionable retreat for artists, she’s hoping for a bit of a break from small-town boredom. The friends get more than they’d bargained for just finding accommodations… and then there’s the murder.
This cozy mystery takes place in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and the author does an excellent job of bringing the setting to life. It feels natural and real, not like the tourist brochures that some novels resemble when real-life settings are involved.
It’s essentially a mainstream novel, complete with a few minor cuss words, but I appreciated the gentle spiritual thread too. When Margaret and Louise are at odds, Margaret recognizes (and resists) two or three instances of God nudging her to make peace. That’s true to life and a good reminder to Christian readers to pay attention when He does it.
Something that didn’t work for me was the way the omniscient point of view occasionally explained other characters’ motivations. This kept me from fully engaging with Margaret as the protagonist, and it made it harder to orient myself in the early pages. Also, there was a significant threat where the source was never resolved. Was it from the killer, or not?
Despite those negatives, The Serenity Stone Murder is an enjoyable read. It leaves openings for future books with Margaret, Louise, and their friends.
Canadian author Marianne Jones’ most recent book is The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die (memoir). She has also written poetry and children’s books. For more about the author and her work, visit mariannejones.ca.
[Review copy from my personal library.]