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.
Through a Glass, Deadly by Sarah Atwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was so cute to read, and it was not like alot of cozy-mysteries. The main character in the book doesn't actually investigate or try to solve the mystery, she just happens to be thrown into times and places that help her to understand what is going on and help her to help the police chief come to the conclusion.
Em is the main character, and she is a glass-blowing artist in Tuscon. She has a habit of taking in strays, which is how she happens to have two dogs, with very short legs in an apartment over her studio! One day, a shy and scared looking gal walks into the shop to watch, Allison, and Em takes her in like a stray. Should be an easy life right, well that very night, Em finds a dead man in her glass-blowing furance. To make matters worse, the dead man turns out to be Allison's way-ward husband!
Twists and turns abound in this book, from the immigration of a young girl to America from Ireland, for what was suppose to be just a summer of work, to a smooth talking Irish gent, who turns out later to be connected to the Irish Mob in Boston first and later Chicago, to a runaway wife, money laundering and glass blowing, oh yeah, and a dirty FBI agent.
Em knows she doesn't know anything about investigation, but she is mad that someone dumped a dead body in her store, in her studio, in her life, and it makes her angry, and as she thinks about what is going on, she literally falls into places and people that end up answering the questions to what is going on.
I was a fun and easy read, and I loved it. It was so nice to have a heroine who knew she couldn't investigate, but just by reasoning and sheer luck, fell into the answers. It was more fun to read in that she wasn't trying to solve the mystery, it was just happening to her.
In the back of the book is a receipe for Irish Soda Bread, which happened to be what I made this morning before I started writing this review, and it was great. I loved it, and I had to compromise because I did not have any buttermilk, so I made it with regular milk, but it was still good!
The cover claims that it is the first in a new series, but I can't imagine how another could follow up on this book, but I look forward to finding out if there is another book and how it's story flows.
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I liked but didn't love this first glassblowing mystery book. I wouldn't actually personally classify it as a cozy mystery because it involves (possible slight spoiler here) mob connections and jewel thiefs. I wish it was a bit lower key - I will probably give this author another try and hhope for a more "cozy" plotline.
First Line: "Nessa? It's pretty quiet, so I think I'm going to work on that new frit technique. You can close up when you're ready to go."
Emmeline Dowell has carved a life for herself amongst the artists of Tucson's Warehouse District. Her shop, Shards, is getting more business, and so many people are signing up for her glassblowing classes that she's going to have to make time for even more. What she doesn't need is trouble, but that's what Em gets when she takes Allison McBride under her wing. When Allison's estranged husband shows up dead in Em's studio, the glassblower finds herself working overtime to help her new friend.
Reading Through a Glass, Deadly was a case of seeing problems yet liking the book a lot anyway. There were little things like an accent that was mentioned but didn't show up until much later in the book, Chicago mobsters who seemed a tad schizophrenic (did they have scruples or were they psychopaths?), a gratuitous murder, and a character who shows up at the end with answers to many of Em's questions. Sounds like more than a little when it comes to problems, doesn't it? Well, what makes me call them little is the fact that the Tucson, Arizona setting, all the information on glassblowing, and-- more than anything else-- the character of Em Dowell are so enjoyable that I willingly overlooked them.
A lot can be forgiven-- not that there's all that much to forgive in this book-- when the main character is so well drawn. Em is a mother hen. She dotes on two dogs she rescued from the pound, and she takes all sorts of people under her wing when she can see they need help. And she's not pushy or in-your-face about it. She's just the type of friend you'd like to have. Hardworking, smart, caring, funny. This book is written from Em's point of view, and I really enjoyed being in her head. She even handles herself rather well in a very scary situation, and has a wonderful geeky brother and a handsome police chief who's very interested in her.
How much do I like Em Dowell? I've already ordered the second book in this series. Nagging plot points can be fixed, but characters like Em are few and far between.
I give it a 3 star review. I am a horror lover however recently Ive been reading cozies and British mysteries and thought I would just read any mystery, giving them all a shot that I came across. This story takes place in Arizona and initially the cover of book 2 captured me and I thought, Id love to read the desert atmosphere and thought for sure I would love it. So I started with book one, The main character started me off on the wrong foot, she got on my nerves taking this strange girl in, trusting everything this lady had to say, almost like she fell in love at first sight with the woman. It rode my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. However, farther in, the story takes a much different turn, an improbable story surfaces, things that only happen in fiction books and well at the end, I am glad I am finished reading it. I did some skimming, but I am one of those people who have to finish a book regardless of crappy story line. I can see many people liking this book, I think because I am coming from the horror genre it didn't suit me.. Again Ill echo, I think mystery lovers will like the book. It wasn't for the, "wanting a scare or thrill" type of person. The end did surprise me. It has some great info on the top of every chapter about Glass making/blowing, that anyone interested in that would love.