So, I’m back after only, what two months now? I’m not dead. A little zombified sure, but not dead. So, behind schedule as always, being crushed slowly by work and classes and all that. Nothing big, just the usual. But I do have a review for you lovely people, isn’t that exciting. Here we go and don’t mind the rust.
Amateur detective Anne Marshall and her fiancé Jason Perry are headed down to Florida for Thanks Giving vacation with his parents only to find that his mother’s best friend Maude has been murdered. The only clue is a fragment of a nursery rhyme pinned to her shirt. “Pocket full of poesies.” Anne dives into the mystery, finding out that the victim’s brother had been killed months earlier with a similar note attached to his body.
Jackie Fullerton’s Ring Around the Rosy is, at its core, a book that doesn’t seem to quite know what it is. It combines the out matched heroine of a cozy mystery with urban fantasy’s just kind of there magic with a romance novel’s dead end love triangle. Anne makes for an interesting heroine because she knows that she shouldn’t be digging into the police’s investigation. Her friends tell her not to, her dead father tells her not to, but she does it anyway apparently because she’s the heroine. So she stumbles around trying to figure out what could cause someone to try to wipe out an entire family. And of course she’s torn between the comfortable love that she has with her fiancé and the shock of lust she feels for Detective Reynolds. She’s also teamed up with her father’s ghost who, despite later in the novel revelations about the nature of the other side, seems to mostly exist to be a plot dump and to comfort her about her attraction to Detective Reynolds. So the book kind of feels mushed together between several genres in ways that don’t really work for me.
The villains are also a bit of a problem. Carl Martin is teamed up with his own ghost, Jeremiah, in trying to murder this family. This could have been awesome if the protagonists had been aware of Jeremiah earlier in the novel. As it stands, Carl is being pushed to take revenge for Jeremiah because of their mutual dead families and grief, but Carl and the reader are the only ones aware of Jeremiah for the first three quarters of the book. It makes it impossible for the protagonists to figure much out, so they spend pages and pages spinning their wheels until accidents happen to move the plot along. Plus, again, Anne’s father was following people to find out as much as he could why, after they identified Carl, wasn’t he aware of the other ghost? Especially given that Jeremiah seems to have known everything he needed to regardless of whether he should’ve or not.
Given all that, Ring Around the Rosy winds up being just sort of flatly mediocre. It isn’t bad even with a few instances of overly romanticized dialogue and plot troubles, but it isn’t good either despite decent side characters and what could honestly be an interesting dynamic between Anne and her father. So where does this leave me? I’m honestly not sure. As I’ve said, it isn’t a bad novel and some of my issues with it almost definitely come from having read it out of sequence, but I don’t think I would read the other two based on this one. All in all, it’s a three out of five book that could have used some whittling down and focusing on its plot.