First of all, I LOVE the title - the play on I Corinthians 13:12 âfor now we see through a glass, darkly...â - for it is a harbinger of things to come, both in this particular storyline and no doubt in the series as well. While Sarah Atwell's Glassblowing Mystery might at first blush appear to be a typical arts and crafts cozy, it is definitely NOT your typical cozy. This story is a bit more dark and a whole lot more suspenseful than most.
Emmeline Dowell is living an artist's dream in Tucson - she owns a fabulous old building in the Warehouse District, with a shop and studio below and her living space above. She need only walk down a flight of stairs to slip into her studio and lose herself in her art each day. Ms. Atwell does a great job of incorporating the art of glassblowing into her novel, and yet not so much so that someone who isn't interested in it at all should skip it. There is plenty here to hold the attention of any mystery lover.
Emmeline is a strong yet soft-hearted woman who often uses her art and her position as a business owner to help others. She decides to reach out to a young Irish woman, Allison McBride, who is short on cash but interested in learning the art of glassblowing. Emmeline's involvement is rewarded with a dead man in her studio and even more trouble than this reader sees coming. We also meet Chief Matthew Lundgren, of the Tucson PD, who is a top-notch cop from Em's past. At this point, this cozy morphs a bit into a police procedural, with plenty of cops, bad guys, murder, and mayhem, with the FBI tossed in for good measure.
After a LOT of suspense and much maneuvering by the main characters, the story once again takes on a more lighthearted tone and things get wrapped up rather neatly, with just enough loose ends to keep the reader waiting for the next installment.
I thoroughly enjoyed the history of glassmaking that was included at the end of the novel, but the recipes just didn't belong. I love finding recipes in culinary cozies, but their inclusion here feels awkward and out of place.
All in all, this is an enjoyable, exciting read, but it's not your grandma's cozy! It is definitely more dark and has a lot more meat than the typical cozy. I'll be looking forward to book #2 in the Glassblowing Mystery series!
Through a Glass, Deadly (2008) introduces Emmeline (Em) Dowell, an artist with a weakness for strays, which is why she has two short-legged dogs that have to be carried up and down the stairs of the apartment above her glassblowing studio and shop in Tucson, Arizona. When the hesitant Allison McBride expresses interest in learning about glass, Em offers her a part-time job and her spare bedroom. That night Allisons husband is murdered in the studio and Em finds herself chasing down clues to prove her new friend's innocence. Em is funny and unpretentiousthe recipe included in the back of the book is for her specialty: Mac & Cheese with Hotdogs. This light mystery will appeal to those interested in crafts; the glassblowing techniques are fascinating, and each chapter begins with a glass vocabulary definition.
I found this to be an interesting and fast-paced mystery. I didn't know too much about glass blowing, and I was afraid the book would get bogged down with descriptions, etc. The fact that Em described a beginners class was a good idea to get in enough information to begin with. This was one of those books that I couldn't put down. Excellent first novel in the series. Can't wait to read more.
This was not a cozy mystery, but rather a fiction book that features a murder. There were no clues, no list of suspects "among us", and the murder was pretty much solved part way through the book, but the timeline had to play out.
Because there were no clues to try to decipher and the suspects were, for the most part, "named", just not yet found, it really seemed like to book was dragging on. It could have easily wrapped up much sooner, there's a lot of repetition that I ended up skimming because I knew there were no clues being introduced.
The main character, Em, is extremely controlling, so much so that the other characters are simply her shallow puppets, with nary an original thought in any of their heads, all acting on her directives, even taking showers when she tells them to. I like a strong lead, and even more so when it's a women, but she can't be so strong that we make absolutely no attachment to the rest of the cast.
The main character has dogs that play a larger role than any other character. The dogs require so much attention that it was just too much!! The dogs can't walk down stairs, because they're short? Too silly. Of course they can walk down stairs, but they get carried up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down....... It's totally fine to have animals in a book, but if they play no significant role, they need to blend into the background, not be the main focus every time one turns around.
All that being said, I do think this could be a great series, if the other characters are allowed to develop their own personalities, if the dogs blend into the background and if there's a little more fun for the reader (meaning, drop some clues that we have to try to figure out and bring in a few "suspects", don't just lead us thru the story by the nose).
The author writes well, the premise is "hip" (artists, glassblowing) and I would give another book in this series a try before giving up.
Enjoyed this very much, interesting information on glass blowing, good mystery and the characters are easy to get to know. Didn't figure out the whole mystery, but bits and pieces. Look forward to number 2.