So my review is a day early, but it gives me an opportunity to say I’m thankful for someone. *Redacted* years ago, I fell into good company. A small writing support group, they helped me regain confidence after an earlier bad writing group experience where in time I had learned to just shut up, or be yelled at for what and who I was. Two of the people in the new writing group were published authors generously giving of their time to those of us who were newbies. I don’t think I would ever have had the courage to publish without them pushing me. I’m very thankful for them, and today I’m honored to be reviewing a new release by one of my mentors, Dave Freer. Dave once gave me the most pungent and trenchant piece of writing advice in my young career: “Your foreshadowing sucks, Cedar.” He also gave me one of the highest compliments in my entire life. That he’d take me on a crew with him, fishing. I’m thankful he’s my friend.
I’m even more thankful for his writing skill. Dave has a way with words, and from the first thing I read of his: Rats, Bats, and Vats, I’ve known he was special. For one thing, his sense of humor aligns with mine, so I find myself laughing uproariously with almost every tale of his I read. The new book may be a departure from what he’s known for, the science fiction and fantasy, but it’s an excellent read. Joy Cometh with the Mourning is a cozy mystery. That is, a mystery where the main sleuth and protagonist is not a law enforcement professional.
And there is the other thing Dave does so very well. He brings his people to life. You know them, you could swear you’d met them in that odd little shoppe in town sometime. They aren’t extraordinary, just very real. The setting in Joy, the Australian town and countryside, are themselves a joy to explore. But the people are what make this book a real treat to curl up with. There’s no plot to save the world (or end it) here. There doesn’t have to be. People have crises, and Joy, the main character and title of the book, is there for them.
The mystery itself is a pretty riddle, with red herrings, and all the little twists a good mystery should have. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you will like this story. And the cherry atop the sundae is that this book is to raise funds for Dave’s own tiny church. The proceeds go to the Flinders Island Parish.
I’m hoping he writes more like this one. I’ll be re-reading it more than once, I foresee. Something my readers may not know is that I was a mystery fan before I fell into the world of SFF. This takes me back, and into a happy place. Also, I will be studying it as I want to write my own mystery, too!