Wednesday, January 29

Clans and Cats and Murder, Oh My.

Boris the Deputy Cat gave Crazy that little extra edge of insanity it didn't really need. (pp. 174-175)

To be perfectly honest, I picked Crazy, VA up because it was free at the time. And because not that long ago I was talking to a friend whose comfort go-to is Romance Novels. And I realized mine are mysteries.

Crazy is a small town in Virginia, divided by a river and by family ties that go back generations. Right back to the founding of the town, as the reader learns in the first chapter of the novel. Sheriff Lil Eller straddles the divide not only in her role in the town but as the only child of both Littlepage and Eller clans. Although her parents were disinherited, she as a grandchild was not; she comes into money and promptly turns it back into an animal shelter. She's got no deputy other than the feral cat -- Boris -- who adopts her in one of the early chapters.

And then Lisa Littlepage, her cousin, is murdered.

Obviously, Sheriff Eller's life gets a whole bunch more interesting. The investigation, Boris, the county police Chief dragging his heels over the investigation, the building of the animal shelter, another cousin demanding she take the investigation back and hiring a (human) deputy she desperately needs and doesn't like, Boris, drunks, animal abusers, adults getting stuck in almost frozen natural water slides, a hurricane, Halloween...

Scared people make stupid mistakes, and there'd already been enough of those by the look of things. (p. 197)

And the murder hanging over her head the whole time.

Hill's writing style is bright and easy to read, and she does an excellent job of bringing not only Lil Eller and Boris but also the supporting characters to life. First person can be complicated to bring off satisfactorily, but Lil's resilience, stubbornness, and generally no-nonsense manner carry through consistently (even if she does ascribe perhaps more intelligence and intent to Boris' actions than are strictly plausible. Hey, I'm a pet person, I ascribe intelligence and intent to my guinea pigs and they're not half as smart as your average cat).

There's a quote toward the end of the book that sums up my feelings about the whole thing pretty well: "Business as usual. Funny, how comforting that can be." (p. 219) I didn't pick up Crazy, VA for a challenging read or because I wanted to wear my literary criticism glasses. I picked it up because I wanted a murder mystery to comfort myself with, a little literary bon bon. I'll be picking up the rest of Hill's novels eventually, because crazily enough this book just hit the spot.

(Side note; links to from this blog will also raise money for ACS, just like the main Cannonball Read blog. I'm not sure how that works with the book's built-in 25% going to animal charities, but hey.)

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