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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

The Unkindness of Ravens | Review

Updated: Mar 21, 2022


Rating - ⭐⭐⭐


"Greer Hogan is a librarian and an avid reader of murder mysteries. She also has a habit of stumbling upon murdered bodies. The first was her husband's, and the tragic loss led Greer to leave New York behind for a new start in the Village of Raven Hill. But her new home becomes less idyllic when she discovers her best friend sprawled dead on the floor of the library.


Was her friend's demise related to two other deaths that the police deemed accidental? Do the residents of this insular village hold dark secrets about another murder, decades ago? Does a serial killer haunt Raven Hill?


As the body count rises, Greer's anxious musings take a darker turn when she uncovers unexpected and distressing information about her own husband's death...and the man who went to prison for his murder . She is racked with guilt at the possibility that her testimony may have helped to convict an innocent man.


Though Greer admires the masters of deduction she reads about in books, she never expected to have to solve a mystery herself. Fortunately, she possesses a quick wit and a librarian's natural resourcefulness. But will that be enough to protect her from a brilliant, diabolical murderer?


And even if Greer manages to catch the Raven Hill killer, will living with her conscience prove a fate worse than death?"


 

The Unkindness of Ravens is the first novel in the Greer Hogan Mystery series by M.E. Hilliard.


I have come to the realization that cozy mysteries might not be for me, and I am sad. I was really hoping I would like this book because a mystery set in a library sounded fantastic. I was hesitating between giving this a rating of 2.5 or 3 but ultimately decided to give this a 3 because I knew the story was going to be forgettable.


There are two main reasons why this story didn't work for me. For one, I am not the biggest fan of a mystery story where the 'detective' figure is a normal citizen. Secondly, I didn't like getting this story from Greer's perspective.


Now, let's get into the details.


 

WRITING


I found the writing to be anticlimactic if that is the right word to use. Whenever something that was supposed to be intense happened, it ended up falling flat because of how casual it was written.


I also found some of the dialogue to be awkward. Lines like - "I'd be bored insensible" and "I slithered along like the Grinch stealing Christmas" were odd to have to read in my head. There was also one specific line that bothered me because it was repeated not once, not twice, but three whole times. "I never faint. I'm not the type." It just sounded weirdly pretentious and was made worse when she ended up doing the unthinkable and fainted at one point.


The title of this book is astutely named because there was a lot of talk about birds, too much in fact. Greer kept repeating the same phrases over and over again and it felt like the point was now lost because it was beaten into the ground.


One aspect I would have liked added to the book, although this doesn't really have to do with the writing and more so the physical book would be a sketch or blueprint of the library. It would have helped better set up the murder scene and setting.



PLOT


We are thrown into the story pretty much right away with Greer encountering the dead body of her fellow librarian within the opening chapters. What follows next is Greer trying to figure out what happened and, as I said in the introduction, I didn't really enjoy following the story from her perspective. Due to that, I just didn't find the story to be as engaging as I would have liked.


There were some odd trains of thoughts on the part of Greer. For example, she would be snooping around trying not to get caught, and instead of trying to calm herself down, she suddenly thinks of cake and is then hungry.


There were also plot holes since some aspects of the mystery just were not explained. Also, why was Greer not doing her job the entire time? Maybe I missed something and the library was closed because of what happened, but she spent the entire book trying to figure out the mystery instead of being at work.



CHARACTERS


I found Greer, the main character, to be an unlikable character in a very specific way. Part of the reason I didn't like her was because she made herself seem suspicious. You find out very early on in the book that her husband was killed, and she was the one who found the body and naturally became a suspect. So, when she is the one to find her friend's body, she is very focused on trying to prove that she had nothing to do with it.


The issue here is that she proceeded to push herself into the investigation and do a lot of things that had the opposite effect and made her look very suspicious. She just came off as a character I couldn't trust because of how sketchy she was acting, and I felt like she had a hidden agenda even though she didn't. She was also so focused on herself that her efforts to find the killer for the sake of her friend seemed ingenuine.


The other reason why I did not like her character was because of how she referred to herself as. She saw herself in Trixie Belden, the titular character of a teen mystery series. Several times throughout the book she called herself the 'girl detective', which I found odd because she was a grown woman. A grown woman referring to herself as a girl detective... It made her seem a lot less mature than she actually was.


Another minor reason that I did not like her was the fact that she, and she said it herself, was looking for someone to throw under the bus as she was conducting her investigation. I didn't like that she could have ended up pining suspicion on someone completely innocent because she, a librarian, thought she had a valid point.


Honestly speaking, I don't think Greer was the right perspective to get this story through. I might have preferred having Webber, an actual cop, be the main character with her Greer assisting on the case.


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


This was just a swing and a miss for me, but in the end, it may have been worth it only to show that cozy mysteries might not be for me. I think I will just stick with the more intense mystery thrillers.

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