Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Corpse with the Ruby Lips by Cathy Ace - Book Review

The Corpse with the Ruby Lips
(A Cait Morgan Mystery)
Author: Cathy Ace
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: TouchWood Editions
Date of publication: 1 November, 2016)
Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1771511957

A gig as guest lecturer at the university in Budapest should have been a dream job for a travelling criminologist and food lover. But wherever Cait Morgan goes, murder seems to follow. One of Cait’s new students pleads with her to solve the mystery of her grandmother’s brutal slaying. She agrees, but when she is repeatedly hassled by a weird colleague, and as bizarre details about the student’s family members come to light, Cait is beset by uncertainty.
As she gets closer to the truth, Cait's investigation puts the powers-that-be on high alert, and her instincts tell her she's in grave danger. Bud races to Budapest to come to Cait's aid, but will it be too late?

Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

Didn't see this one coming!
The Corpse with the Ruby Lips by Cathy Ace is a new installment in the Cait Morgan Mystery Series, and a different mystery by all means.

In her books, Ace often takes the reader to a foreign country. In The Corpse with the Garnet Face, the country of choice was Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In this instalment, the novel is set in Budapest, Hungary.

Cait goes to Budapest to teach for a month; there one of her students, Zsofia, asks that she look into her grandmother's death which occurred almost 40 years prior on Cait's university campus at UVAN (University of Vancouver).

As Cait begins to meet other family members, exercising her psychology tactics and having her husband Bud, who had to remain in Canada, dig into the unclosed mystery, things begin to spiral in a new direction, as the case opens fresh wounds for many.

One of the things I liked about this instalment was Ace's use of books, a saga to be exact, that might mirror what has happened to the family. The author also handles a variety of themes and problems such as Alzheimer's and alcoholism, to keep Cait – and the reader – away from finding the truth.

Regarding alcoholism, Ace carefully utilises the problems accompanied with it in the book and characters.

Having lived with a person whose memory was often ravaged by too much liquor, I recognised the expression that flashed across Alexa's face; she couldn't recall exactly what she'd said to her daughter the night before, and experience was telling her she'd never be able to retrieve the lost words from the black hole where they'd sunk without trace.

The Corpse with the Ruby Lips is quite realistic; I particularly liked how the renowned psychologist Cait isn't perfect and despite her intelligence can be gullible at times.

I was speechless. She'd used me! She'd researched me, found my weaknesses, and just plain used me. And I'd fallen for it. I'd actually liked her.

As always, Cait's little insights never fail to impress me. I particularly liked this part where she describes a music manager who had come to look at new artists and sign them up. Cait's emotions are clear and easily transferred to the reader.

He handed out cards, his fingers lingering on Zsofia's as she took one. I felt everything in me clench – not just because of the way his eyes were sliding across Zsofia's bosom, but because the way he presented himself wasn't endearing at all; there's only so much bling a person can wear before you begin to wonder why they need to have that much gold about their person at all times.

The book is not devoid of humour and bit of sarcasm.

"'Careful' is my middle name," I mugged.
"Not it's not, and it never will be. Your middle name's much more likely to be 'catastrophe.'"

Narrated in the first person, The Corpse with the Ruby Lips has many beautiful lines, imagery and quotes. The overall narration is exciting, even when events don't seem to be moving forward.

"Words can never be unsaid. They ring in our ears forever - sometimes when we least want them to."

Overall rating: 5 stars.

Check out my book reviews of previous books in the series: The Corpse with the Diamond HandThe Corpse with the Garnet Face and The Corpse with the Crystal Skull.

Note: This review was originally part of a blog tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, but due to commitments I was only able to publish the guest post titled "The Effect of Words" by Cathy Ace on my scheduled date. Check out the post highlighting the theme of 'words' in The Corpse with the Ruby Lips.

About the Author:

Cathy Ace loves crime! It’s true – she discovered Nancy Drew in her local library, then found Agatha Christie on her Mum’s bookshelves, and she never looked back. Cathy happily admits that the characters she met between the book-covers as a child have influenced her writing. 
“Nancy Drew was plucky, strong and independent, and Agatha Christie’s puzzles engaged me every time. I love the sort of book that mixes intricate plotting with a dash of danger, and that’s what I’ve tried to create with my Cait Morgan Mystery Series. Beginning my new series, featuring the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency, I have been able to indulge my love of stately homes, village life and the interplay between characters that can take place in that sort of setting.”

Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, Cathy is, like her heroine Cait Morgan, now a Canadian citizen. “Cait’s Welsh Canadian, as am I. They say ‘write what you know’, so a short, plus-sized Welsh woman, who’s quite bossy, fits the bill! But Cait and I are not one and the same: she’s got skills and talents I don’t possess, and I’m delighted to say that I don’t usually encounter corpses wherever I go! I’ve also chosen to burrow even deeper into my roots by creating a new cast of characters in the WISE women who come from all four corners of the United Kingdom and work in a uniquely British setting – a ducal estate set in the rolling Welsh countryside of the Wye Valley in Powys, where I spent a good deal of time when I was young.”
With a successful career in marketing having given her the chance to write training courses and textbooks, Cathy has now finally turned her attention to her real passion: crime fiction. Her short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Two of her works, “Dear George” and “Domestic Violence”, have also been produced by Jarvis & Ayres Productions as “Afternoon Reading” broadcasts for BBC Radio 4.

Cathy now writes two series of traditional mysteries: The Cait Morgan Mysteries (TouchWood Editions) and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (Severn House Publishers).

Cathy is proud to be Chair of Crime Writers of Canada, a member of Sisters in Crime, the Crime Writers Association, and Mystery Writers of America.

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