Death by Misfortune by A.M. Riley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
4.5 stars rounded up
Death by Misfortune is a whirlwind story from start to finish. I feel almost as if I sped read the novel with it’s frantic pace and engaging manner. I couldn’t get enough and this is easily a book I’ll read again and again. It’s not perfect once you stop and try to put the various pieces together but the excellent writing and complicated, flawed characters will suck you in from the start and never let go. The ending is very good even with no exuberant happy endings, there are beginnings and the complex characterizations leave you rooting and hoping things may work out. For fans and those new to this author, this is an excellent book you simply won’t want to miss.
The plot is extremely complicated and details layer on as the story deepens. The cast is large and the pace near frantic with activity. In fact the pace is so quick and engaging you fly through the pages. The story does a commendable job at keeping the various characters distinct while staying memorable and interesting. The mystery initially centers on the murder of a psychic but soon expands to include other murders as motives are muddled and increasingly sexual. The murder intimately involves big name Hollywood players so the labyrinth like maze of connections and behind the scenes drama makes for a very full story.
The writing is superb and fans of the author should recognize her style easily. The story is active and shown to the reader at a pace that never stops. Information and details are constantly being offered but never overwhelming. The frantic pace could have benefited from something to take the edge off between the parties, movie making, and mad dashing about. I think the story tries to do this with the scenes between Beckett and Jeremy but their increasingly destructive relationship only adds to the urgent feel and tension. This aspect, like the entire story itself, is so compelling and fascinating you can’t help devouring it and wanting more. These scenes become just another mounting sense of foreboding.
Occasionally the point of view switches during scenes but these, like the few typos and missing words, are absently noted and easily forgotten in the absorbing narrative. The punchy dialogue conveys a massive amount of information and is never at a loss between characters. Thankfully the skillful handling of such a large cast keeps each character feeling unique from their behavior to dialogue. The banter and exchange of information never blends and lets you forget who is speaking what. This is quite a feat considering the sheer number of characters and the details provided.
The romance provided is secondary to the mystery. In some ways this really works since the mystery is so compelling. There is a host of possible suspects and not enough clues to really figure out the answer, though a logical guess will work. I didn’t really mind since the various complicated relationships are so interesting and absorbing that I was quite happy to race along wherever the story wants to go. The dark foreboding overtones deepen as the story goes on and you can’t help but feel you’re watching a train wreck about to happen. This almost oppressive atmosphere won’t be for everyone and while the fast plot helps alleviate any depressing tones, not every reader will appreciate the pseudo destructive nature of most of the personalities.
The full plot definitely causes a few things to suffer. The main victim is the romance between Bill and Christopher with the characterization in general to a lesser degree. The reader gets to know the cast and the various principles but they are all so complicated and flawed that I can’t help feeling the story has simply scratched their surface at best. Bill especially is an enigma, offering few clues into his psyche even when his perspective is narrating the story. This clouds any understanding of his feelings for Christopher and how he views their relationship. We see actions almost too much as there are a lack of real appreciation for why Bill feels and does the things he does. I would have liked more context and understanding to connect with these two as the real involved and intense relationship is one depicted between Bennett and Jeremy given center stage.
These however are minor complaints as Death by Misfortune is a whirlwind story sure to please. This will easily appeal to those that like a darker romance and definitely those that like a meaty mystery. There is nothing very light or easy about the story, except of course reading it. The quick pace and entertaining antics will have pages turning quicker than expected and this is an easy story to devour. The best part is the authentic feel and complexity afforded right to the very end. The final resolution isn’t exaggerated and happy but instead quiet and hopeful, fitting to these rather destructive characters. I really quite loved reading this one and highly recommend it to fans and newcomers to the author alike.