When I was first approached about reading Irregardless of Murder I was immediately smitten by the playful title. The main character of the Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery series, Miss Amelia Prentice, is an English teacher and the use of an obvious grammatical error made me smile. I anticipated a plucky spirited mystery and the personality of the book didn’t disappoint me. When I finished the book and turned the final page a lingering feeling of slight disappointment did linger and I still seem unable to identify exactly why. I think, perhaps, that this mystery is a just a bit too light, too convenient and too easy for me to feel really satisfied with the book. It was good but it wasn’t great. I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it. It just left me feeling slightly unfulfilled.
The premise of the book is fine. It’s simple enough. An English teacher trips over a corpse of a former student while in the library. She becomes a suspect, becomes involved in the investigation and must work to clear her own name. It is just too convenient of a story for me. It is the same issue I had with another book I read earlier this year. Everything just happens too perfectly and, as a result, the book lacks the tension and conflict you would expect to read in a strong mystery. One of the biggest examples of this is that Miss Prentice seems to know absolutely everybody. I have close friends who are teachers and I am well aware that they cannot go anywhere in town without running into somebody they know. Everyone seems to be either a former student or the relative of a former student. The issue is that while my friends seem to always know someone, Miss Prentice seems to know everyone. The book actually opens with her awakening after being knocked out and starting to speak pig-latin to the paramedic who happens to be a former student. Every encounter seems to be like that. It’s ok but as a result the book lacked tension.
There are also heavy religious overtones through the entire book. This didn’t bother me as I am deeply rooted in Christian faith and never find religion in a book offensive. I do feel the need to mention it though as I wouldn’t want to mislead a reader. This may have impacted the storytelling as well because it did read as though there was deliberate effort taken to make this a “clean” mystery. It’s not sexual or violent and too dark. It’s gentle and, at many times, humorous. It’s the kind of book that would probably appeal to high school aged readers or readers who want a very direct and easy mystery. I missed the tension.
I find it humorous that the website for this book is Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery. I wouldn’t normally think of the word “cozy” to describe a mystery yet it’s actually quite perfect for Irregardless of Murder. It won’t leave you feeling too confused, too stress or too afraid. It’s a book you can pick up, grab a cup of tea and curl up to read. You will, literally, feel quite cozy. It’s a quick book and can easily be read in two days. At about 320 pages it’s a decent size and more than just a simple afternoon read. It’s probably a book I’d grab to read on the plane or to squeeze in between intense thrillers or more complex books. I can see that it will appeal some readers because of its gentle nature however I can’t claim that it is going to remain a favorite of mine.
Review by Ashley LaMarClosed the Cover