We have an interesting mix of reviews for you this month on SDP! Murder, Murder, and Found Family. But while one of these things is not like the other, the list does illustrate why our group works so well: we’re all very different writers and quite different readers and viewers. This makes for great variety when we’re writing reviews for our blog and great conversations when we get together. But we also value these different perspectives when we’re giving each other advice and critique. Often, one of us sees the things no one else does! And, apparently, this month it’s mostly murder.
So let’s start there.
Murder Your Employer: The McMasters Guide to Homicide by Rupert Holmes.
That’s all the description needed before diving into the pages of this book. From before page one, when your eyes scan the detailed map of the university campus to the first chapter, the reader has already been parachuted into another stratosphere unlike any other.
Witty, often hilarious, and without a doubt, pun-a-licious, the author has built a creative world filled with a cast of quirky, unpredictable, but likable characters who, under any other circumstance, society would deem run-of-the-mill people—everyday folks doing everyday things: nurses, actresses, scientists, a computer whiz. However, one step onto the McMaster campus and the student’s penchant for a well-executed murder becomes all that matters.
Oops, pardon me. Not murder: Deletion. Don’t believe me? Read for yourself.
“The McMaster Conservatory for the Applied Arts, a luxurious, clandestine college dedicated to the fine art of murder where earnest students study how best to delete their most deserving victim.”
Now, to gain admission into such a prestigious conservatory, the student must possess an “ethical reason” for wanting to bump off their target. I mean a really, really good reason. Nothing wishy-washy or namby-pamby, but a sold virtuous reason they should be permitted to erase someone from this earth because, let’s face it, they are, after all, talking about death. And not only must they have a good reason, but their means of execution must also be humane. Yes, I see the dichotomy of that last sentence, and so do they, but that’s what makes this so darn amusing.
In this highly entertaining, morbidly hilarious world, the art of deletion is taught to students seeking the ultimate solution to their woes. Professors versed in the art of deletion discuss poisons, history, weapons, and bludgeoning with impunity, imparting to their class their fatal wisdom and lethal insights to pull off the perfect crime. And, of course, all activities are carried out covertly within the confines of a secluded and heavily fortified educational institution.
Kudos to the author for crafting an incredibly creative story with plenty of unexpected plot twists, suspenseful moments, and intriguing mysteries, providing hours of deliciously naughty fun.
If you’ve been following our reviews, you know by now that I’m a big fan of mysteries; I have been since I was a kid—books, movies, TV series, it doesn’t matter what format. I’ve also gotten to know the British actor Kris Marshall through his work on Death in Paradise. So when I stumbled upon the TV Series Murder City, which included both things, I had to check it out.
Although the series came out on British TV in 2006, I hadn’t heard about it before. And sadly, it only lasted 2 seasons. The show follows a team of detectives as they investigate homicides in London. Usually, they are working on multiple murders at a time which seem completely unrelated, but they end up being connected in some clever way by the time the detectives solve the case. The cast of characters among the detectives is another thing that makes the stories so entertaining.
Sadly, I sped through the episodes and have watched them all! If this is your kind of thing, I highly recommend checking out the series. You can watch it free with ads on Prime Video’s Freevee.
Unexpecting by Jen Bailey
On the surface, Unexpecting is a book about teenage pregnancy. But look a little deeper, it’s actually a book about what it means to be a family.
Two months after Ben comes out as gay, he has more news to share: he’s going to be a father. Understandably, everyone is confused and the number one question is: But aren’t you gay? Well, yes, he is. But Ben is also a bit of a nerd and so is his best girl friend (two words, distinctly two words), Maxie. So, they conduct an experiment. Ben to test the gay hypothesis—he thinks he is, but how can he know if he’s never had sex with a girl? Maxie to test the virginity is a social construct hypothesis. And the condom breaks.
Maxie’s parents are adamant: she’s not keeping this baby.
Ben, on the other hand, is just as adamant: this baby is not being rejected by his father. You see, Roger is the third stepdad Ben has had, and the first two, and his biological father, all left him behind.
What follows is the heartbreaking tale of Ben coming to terms with the mismatch between his reality and his dreams. He learns what being a parent will be, and what being a family actually is. In other words, he comes of age in a rather brutal six months, probably well before time. What I loved about this book, though, wasn’t the hardship Ben faced—though it was so well written that I cried with the poor more than once. But I also cried when the good things happened and most of them were on the part of Roger, stepdad #3. Gosh, I love that man. And I love the lessons he taught Ben—not just how to drive, but how to be a fully realized person. How to be a son, what it means to be a father, and what family is all about.
Writer of love stories. Bibliophile. Gamer. Hiker. Cat herder. Waiting for the aliens.