Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy

I nabbed this book when it came in at the library simply on the basis of the beautiful cover art.  Well, maybe the fact that I've read Julie Hyzy's White House series and know she writes fun, inviting cozies had something to do with it, but you gotta admit, the cover is gorgeous (even more so in reality - the colors aren't as vivid in the picture).

I've been a cozy mystery fan for years, but recently I've found myself drawn more to the fast-paced, thriller type mystery.  I am easily bored with stories that contain too much extraneous information.  (Oh really, Tami?  We would never have guessed that from reading your reviews.)  No, seriously!  Perhaps it's my age and the fact that time is seeming more finite than twenty years ago, but let's just cut to the chase.

However, the appeal of a cozy comes from locations that make you want to return and characters that become friends, and you just don't get that in a thriller.  I want to visit Pickax City from The Cat Who series.  I want to spend a weekend at the PennDutch Inn with Tamar Myer's Magdalena Yoder.  I want to meet Bernie Rhodenbarr for drinks, though he would probably spend the evening insisting his creater, Lawrence Block, doesn't write cozies.  I want to shop at Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand bookstore.  I have distinct images of all these people and places from time spent with them and their stories.  Marshfield Manor is now on my reading itinerary.  I want to go back.

Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor.  The elderly, reclusive heir trusts no one but his aged curator, Abe.  But when Abe is killed in a case of mistaken identity, the tide changes.  Grace Wheaton, whose lifelong dream has been to work at the manor, steps up to the challenge of assuming Abe's job.  But now some of the letters arriving for Bennett have taken a nasty turn, demanding millions - or else.  When a stalker shows up at the manor, she and handsome groundskeeper, Jack Embers, must protect their dear old Marshfield. (from book jacket)

The plot of this book isn't particulary noteworthy.  Typical to the genre, there are pacing issues and, in a book rich with detail, one of the major clues is bafflingly sketchy, but most cozy mystery fans will agree that it's all about the characters. In the first book of this new series, Ms Hyzy has created a setting and cast that will bring me back.


  1. Tami, I would have picked up the book based on the cover too. It looks like a cozy place to be. I like your idea of visiting some of the places you've been in books. We could have some great trips that way.

  2. Too funny - I read your post and it made me think of Margot - and then here she was leaving a comment! She always writes about her love for the characters and wanting to re-visit their worlds. She's a big fan of the Lumby series - sounds like one you might enjoy too. Not a cozy mystery series I don't think - but certainly a fun place with great characters to visit.