Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Corpse with the Garnet Face – Book Review


A continuation of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, The Corpse with the Garnet Face by Cathy Ace is a different kind of mystery. The first chapter opens with two bombshells for psychologist Cait and her new – and newly-retired cop – husband Bud Anderson, who learns from his mother, Ebba, that he had an uncle and that that uncle was now dead.

Cathy Ace expertly weaves in comic relief also from the first few pages to relieve the tension she built on the first page of the novel.

The uncle, Jonas, leaves a letter for Bud and gives him a task to uncover a long-dead mystery that took place early in Jonas' life. In his letter, Jonas tells Bud: "I cannot tell you who I am. No man can do that of himself. He is only the person he is because of how people know him, and what he has done. It is time for what I have done to be understood."

When we first meet Ebba, she describes her brother, saying "Jonas was a bad boy," whereas when we begin to meet Jonas' friends in the Netherlands, some say "He was a good man." The contrast puts the reader in the middle, awaiting to find out which of them is right about the estranged uncle.

Cait and Bud travel to Amsterdam to fulfil Jonas' will and uncover a mystery if there is one. There, they learn about who Jonas was through his friends.

"His facial muscles gave away almost nothing; the throbbing vein in his neck told a different tale."

Soon enough they begin to feel that the accounts given to them of Jonas are contradictory and that some of the friends seem to be hiding something.

One of the fun things about the Cait Morgan Series, is how Cait observes people, pointing out tiny hints about their facial expressions or tones. "The only problem was that, although he was saying all the right words, his tone wasn't utterly convincing."

The Corpse with the Garnet Face tackles art, lots of it, since Jonas and his friends were artists and painters. However, there were some parts that I felt were too detailed in the art world that a normal reader – like me – would feel lost. These parts, I felt, would be more appreciated by someone who majors in art.

I liked the chapter where Bud and Cait create a timeline of the events they've learned. I felt it was a bit like a nicely-written history book.

"First of all, I know we've established that everyone has lied to us, and they've also tried to muddy the waters."

I did, however, feel that the conclusion to The Corpse with the Garnet Face was rather confusing, even as Cait laid out all their findings, I still felt lost.

Still, I liked how Cait and Bud were able to uncover not only the mystery they were sent to Holland for, but several others pertaining to Jonas' group.

The Corpse with the Garnet Face is certainly a different cozy mystery read. A mystery that produces more mysteries and keeps the reader's mind working.

"All I wanted to do was fulfill my uncle's wishes, and be able to go back to Mom with some knowledge she could cherish about the guy. Instead, there's all of this…I don't know, this atmosphere of things not being what they appear to be. I don't like it."

Overall rating: 4 stars

Note: I received a free copy of The Corpse with the Garnet Face from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Check out my book review of The Corpse with the Diamond Hand here.