Cozy mysteries are fun because they give you an opportunity to experience all the “whodunit” excitement without the overwhelming car chases, gunfights, and gruesome autopsy details. This particular cozy was a departure from nearly every other book I’ve read in the genre because of its subject matter.
Most cozies install part-time private investigators to solve the mystery. Rarely does this genre offer mysteries solved by “regular” folks with no connection to the profession. It was fresh, inventive, and unpredictable. It is clear Mr. Belz knows his way around architecture, too. I wouldn’t have imagined a setting heavy on blueprints and ductwork to be a believable backdrop for murder, but it turns out, with the right author holding the pen, it certainly can be.
The tension between subplot characters was evenly measured against the main story arc, which meant I was left suspecting a new culprit at nearly every chapter break. The details of the world of architecture were made more interesting when juxtaposed against these very human characters… each given equal time to establish themselves emotionally without revealing the solution to the mystery too early in the game.
It's always interesting to read a story that you know was based in familiar territory. Even though Mr. Belz changed some of the place and road names, I easily identified these local Detroit area landmarks and enjoyed imagining that this novel could have been based on actual events. This story was a comfortable mix of reality and fantasy. Only once did I find myself thinking, “That couldn’t actually happen.” Then once again, like a live trap, I was snared back into the mystery. That one moment aside, the pace of the story was deliberately robust. At each turn of the page, I was challenged to figure it out. As a result, I found it harder and harder to stop turning pages.
I don’t know if Mr. Belz has other novels to discover, but if they exist, I will read them. His style is comfortable and completely accessible, which is exactly the definition of a cozy mystery.
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