Thursday, September 12, 2019

Mayhem, Murder and the PTA by Dave Cravens

Genre: Mystery / Thriller

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pages: 434 pages
Published: May 2019 

Parker Monroe is a tough-talking investigative reporter used to writing headlines, not being the subject of them. When a key source vanishes on a politically toxic story, this single mother of three finds herself at the center of a media storm and out of a job. Ready to reset, Parker moves her family back to the rural town where she grew up. But a gossip-filled PTA, a tyrannical school principal and a gruesome murder make adjusting to the "simple life" anything but. Parker Monroe is about to chase the story of her lifetime...

Mayhem, Murder and the PTA by Dave Cravens introduces the reader to Parker Monroe who is a journalist recovering from a huge misstep in her career. To reset her life she moves across the country and back home with her mother and three children. Upon her return she is confronted by the vice principal of her former school who is a bit of a nemesis. Shortly thereafter, a murder occurs and Parker and her inquisitive nature quickly gets wrapped up in the subsequent events.

This book is what I would categorize as a humorous murder mystery. While there are some dark elements, the book isn't too heavy. The author provided enough detail to keep the reader engaged. While the advanced readers copy of the paperback I received is is more than 400 pages, all of the chapters are all relatively short and the spacing is generous, so it's probably not a true 434 pages. I enjoy mysteries, and this one did not disappoint. I was invested in completing the novel because I wanted to find out how the myriad of characters fit together. Cravens did an exceptional job of giving all the characters - primary, secondary, and tertiary - a purpose and making it easy to discern individual within the entire cast of characters.

My critiques include the incongruence in the author's writing and voice style. He would change from third person omniscient to the main character, Parker, talking to herself which almost made it seem as though he was switching from third to first person. It created some inconsistency for me and caused me to have to re-read several passages. Additionally, I was not a fan of the foul language. I get that Cravens wanted the protagonist to be "tough-talking," independent, and flawed, but I think the obscenities were overdone. Using curse words doesn't make you tough nor does it make you appear tough. It was very easy to tell that this character was written by a male. She almost seemed like a male character in personality. In conjunction with the language and abundance of Bon Jovi references, who the author clearly has an affinity for, I just wasn't impressed. In fact, I think if these were reduced, the book could have been about 1/4 shorter in total. Also, I don't think the sole sex scene was needed nor was it germane to the overall mystery. It definitely could have been left on the cutting room floor. The book is dialogue heavy. There are more direct quotes in conversation and not a lot of vivid descriptions. It seems as though the author took the approach to tell rather than show what was happening.

Recommendation At any rate, I did enjoy the book. I found it humorous, witty, and engaging. I think fans of the mystery genre would enjoy this. It can easily been read in a couple of days.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.

As a child, Dave Cravens planned to grow up to be a superhero, the first person to capture Bigfoot and Nessie on film, pilot experimental aircraft out of Area 51, develop cold fusion, and star and direct in his own blockbuster action movies so he could retire at the ripe age of twenty-five and raid tombs the rest of his life. Instead, he got a degree in journalism, which he hasn’t used at all other than to justify his incredibly insightful and valid complaints about the state of journalism. During his twenty-two years in the video game business, he’s written for award winning franchises, directed TV commercials and movies, sprained his ankles numerous times in ultimate frisbee games and published three original novels.

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Prizes: First Prize: $20 Amazon gift card

Second Prize: $10 Amazon gift card
Third Prize: Paperback copy of Mayhem, Murder and the PTA
Fourth Prize: Kindle copy of Mayhem, Murder and the PTA

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  1. Thank you very much for sharing this humorous mystery.