REVIEW: Murder Hooks a Mermaid

Note:  This review was originally written for inclusion in The Season E-Zine's January mystery section.

Murder Hooks a Mermaid by Christy Fifield
Berkley Prime Crime (304 pages)
December 31, 2012

Rating: 3.5/5 (Good) (The Season's rating scale now runs from 1 to 5.)

For fans of:  Lorraine Bartlett

When Glory Martine inherited a 55% share of her Uncle Louis’ souvenir shop, Southern Treasures, she didn’t realize she’d also be inheriting the ghost of her Uncle Louis. Or that Uncle Louis’ ghost would opt to communicate with her via the shop’s mascot, a potty-mouthed parrot named Bluebird. Quirks be damned though, Glory’s proud of what she’s been able to do with her new business, and is determined to make a go of things in her old hometown of Keyhole Bay.

Spring break is right around the corner, which means Glory should be dedicating all her free time to preparing for the inevitable influx of tourists. Instead, she’s stuck trying to help her best friend Karen clear the name of Karen’s former brother-in-law Bobby, who’s been arrested for murder. It’s pretty clear Bobby’s been set up – but by who and why?

Murder Hooks a Mermaid is the second in Christy Fifield’s Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery series, and it’s a bit of a slow burn. I actually wasn’t quite sure what I thought of this book for the first hundred pages or so; the setup is clunky, the story has no real sense of place, and Fifield doesn’t do a great job of establishing the stakes. You never get to know murder suspect Bobby (in fact, I don’t even remember meeting him), which makes it difficult to care whether he’s been wrongfully accused or will be wrongfully convicted, and the pace starts off a bit slow.  The premise is quirky and unique, though (the idea of a haunted parrot amuses the heck out of me), and in Glory, Fifield has created a heroine for whom you can’t help but root, so I stuck with it. And I have to tell you, I’m glad that I did.

Yes, some of the supporting characters feel a bit flat, but the book’s key players – namely Glory, Karen, and Glory’s love interest, Jake – are entertaining and well drawn. The friendship between Glory and Karen rings true, and Fifield does a great job fleshing out the developing relationship between Glory and Jake. The mystery is clever (if a little predictable), and once the action and drama pick up in the third act, the story really sucks you in.

Final verdict? If you’re looking for a fun and easy read (now with bonus haunted parrot!), check out Murder Hooks a Mermaid by Christy Fifield. It’s not going to change the way you view crime fiction or anything, but it’s certainly an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon.