Publication Date: April 6, 2014
In Murder at Castle Rock by Anne-Marie Stoddard, Amelia “Ame” Grace has booked 1980s Icon Bobby Glitter to perform at the Castle Rock. Her career may be at a high but her co-workers seem to have things boiling under the surface and when the club owner suffers a fall right in front of Ame, was it suicide or something more sinister? Ame knows something is up and she can’t stop herself from uncovering the killer no matter the personal cost.
The author, Anne-Marie Stoddard, gave me a copy of this novel for my review.
Let’s paint a backdrop of a castle-themed nightclub reminiscent of the famed Castle Club in Chicago. Throw in a little Aldous Snow (expertly played by Russell Brand in Get Him to the Greek). Transport the venue to Atlanta and throw in a little Stephanie Bond cozy-mystery styling and you have Murder at Castle Rock.
As with most cozy leads, Ame is an unlikely hero. She is an ordinary woman working a job she loves with friends she cherishes and not really thinking toward the future. Getting Bobby Glitter to play the club is a huge triumph for her punctuated by a local rock station covering the event but she’s going to make it work. This is going to be a crowning achievement and things are going up from here. When the owner of the club, who had recently been acting erratically and begging for a sexual harassment talk from H.R., falls to his death, Ame must know what happened. That’s the hook for cozies. You have the character unable to resist justice. For Ame, she knows that her friends weren’t involved in his death and that’s all she needs to know. With her sidekick, the teenaged Bronwyn, she sets out to find the truth and clear her friends of suspicion.
From the point of the unlikely suicide, Stoddard layers her story with the requisite components for a cozy mystery, but also with some pretty surprisingly clever twists and turns. Stoddard morphs the story from a bit vacuous and giddy where the biggest concern is getting that sangria with a giant slice of pizza to a tale with depth and heart. That isn’t to say that Stoddard doesn’t play to type. Ame is a somewhat fluffy girly girl who was the nerd in school with the model pretty best friend making up what the author believes to be an odd-couple friendship. There’s the degenerate rock star, the overly randy boss, the hot and heavy love interest. On the surface, the requisite ingredients make for a light beach read while those who look deeper will strain to find fault in the actual execution. This is a cozy you can discuss and dissect.
Stoddard’s Stephanie Bond-like style will give this author and character longevity. The author tells us that her passion is the music industry and concerts and I can while she doesn’t belabor the technical details, she gives us a sense of place and reality. We have a character with a job that she does while using intelligence, common sense and a bit of chance to work herself into a case in which she doesn’t belong. Savvy readers may cite a lack of southern accent but I’ve found in my many visits the city and in Bond’s work that accents are hit and miss in the city with so many imports to the region.
If you’re looking for a vacation, summer or beach read. Something light but interesting and wholly engaging, read an excerpt and buy Murder at Castle Rock by Anne-Marie Stoddard on