Monday, May 18, 2015

Heather Day Gilbert: Trial by Twelve

By Kelly Bridgewater

Back Cover Copy:
From Amazon
Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa's back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry.

As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia...a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.

When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer's sights have zeroed in on her.

My Review:

I have to admit; the genre and the cover of Trial by Twelve drew me into Heather Day Gilbert’s newest book. I liked how simple the cover was because it wasn’t overcrowded and filled my mind with preconceived notions of what the characters looked like.

When reading a mystery or romantic suspense novel, I liked to be swept up in the action immediately. Unfortunately, in Gilbert’s newest novel, Trial by Twelve, I didn’t feel the spine tingling anxiety as the heroine and narrator, Tess, runs for her life. The opening chapter has a lot of backstory and ended with an inciting incident that sparked my interest immediately. But the rest of the story centers on Tess’s home life and not much with the mystery. The plot dragged in the middle, pushing me to do other things besides read. There are some moments of conflict: an arrow pierced the side of Tess’s house with a note attached or her license plate or Charlotte, her friend, gets knocked out, but not Tess. Because of others are getting hurt, not Tess, I never worried for Tess’s safety. The story does pick up near the end as Tess comes closer to discovering who the villain is. Plus, the ending felt really rushed to me. One minute, Tess is in trouble for her life and then she is being rushed to safety. Again, I had no fear of Tess not getting out alive.

While there is no budding relationship to qualify as a romantic story, the plot does involve Tess and her husband, Thomas. The marriage between Tess and Thomas appears perfect. He is supportive of her working at a hot spot for a serial killer while he worked long hours at the law firm. The story is told in first person point of view, so I understood Tess’s struggles and fears. Tess is a strong heroine who has overcome many struggles in her past and loves being accepted into her husband’s family. She is a woman who can be admired for her ability to rise above her past.

Gilbert does have a command on keeping the prose and dialogue even. The conversations between the characters were spot on. I felt like I was listening in on their discussions. While the dialogue sparked my attention, the setting is vaguely described. Gilbert would tell me that Tess and Thomas lived in the little cottage behind his parent’s big house, but she never visually showed me what the houses looked like, allowing my imagination to picture whatever I wanted. Not that it was a bad thing, but I didn’t feel anchored to the setting.

Another qualm that confused my reading was the journal entries at the beginning of each chapter. For the longest time, I saw no connection between them and the chapter. When Tess does discover the physical copies of the journal that, as a reader, I have been reading since the beginning, I wondered why I couldn’t discover the contents of the writings along with Tess.

Trial by Twelve is an original, yet totally predictable mystery with barely any mention of God. Fans of mysteries, whether religious or not, would enjoy this book. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a cozy mystery like Lorena McCourtney mixed in with the overarching family dynamics of Karen Kingsbury. There is no questionable content to flinch or run from.

Overall, Heather Day Gilbert’s Trial by Twelve is a cozy mystery overpowered by the family dynamics of Tess’s and Thomas’s day-to-day occurrences.

I received a complimentary copy of Trial by Twelve from Heather Day Gilbert and the opinions stated are all my own.  

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars


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