Book Review – Cluttered Attic Secrets by Jan Christensen.

Cluttered Attic Secrets

2 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Victory Editing for allowing me an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

Cluttered Attic Secrets appears to be book three in a series. Not that this was indicated on Netgalley. If it had been I wouldn’t have read it, as I’ve not read any of the other books in this series and I’m not a fan of coming into a series mid-way through. Especially with this sort of book as there is no real re-cap of events, descriptions of the characters or anything in depth that would allow a new reader to catch up. You’re just thrown into it, assumed you know what’s going on and can relate to the occasional one liners that hark back to earlier tales.

I have to say, this book has left me with very mixed emotions. The blurb intrigued me, I wanted to like it and I even read it all the way to the end to give it a chance. Sadly, this book wasn’t for me.

To give it some of the positive it deserves: The overall plot idea, setting and range of characters was promising. It was a unique story idea and not one I’ve read in cosy crime/ ‘light-side of mystery’ before. I do like a good ‘old house with secrets within’ sort of story. Due to this, felt the book did start well with the minor suspense of is it a ghost… or something else and the initial first chapter did get me interested enough to continue reading.

Now for the constructive criticism side of things. Please note I’m not doing this to be mean, or negative or nasty. I provide constructive criticism to try and provide decent feedback on a story. As an author myself, I might not always appreciate people not liking my books, but if they explain it with constructive criticism I can at least learn why it didn’t work for them.

So here goes… and I’m bracing myself for the usual unlikes on Amazon. I’m a big girl, I can take them. 😉

Okay, now I know the ARC of a book is often sent to reviewers before the final edit is done and so I do expect the usual typos, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and the usual little errors we all make during the drafting process.

Unfortunately this book was so riddled with them I do wonder if it had seen a single edit or proof reader before being turned into an ARC and I really do hope the final version being sold is of far better quality.

Besides the usual grammatical mistakes, spelling errors and the use of words that sound like they’re the right one, but aren’t – things got messy. The characters in this book often changed names. Brandon, or is it Bandon? Was the realtor Nina or Nicole? Food used to poison someone went from being Mexican to Chinese. When the character Vicky is talking about her family, she goes from calling her daughter Sophie to referring to her as Vicky. At one point one of the “bad guys” refers the aunt by her first name, when there is no mention of them ever knowing her. So I am going to have to assume it was another wrong name used in conversation. I won’t even go into how a girl can go from being able to construct full sentences to suddenly only being able to manage two word replies as she is ‘mentally retarded’. As a mother of an autistic child I do feel some actual research in this area may have been helpful so as to look like the author had some concept of these matters, as it doesn’t come across like she knew anything other than mainstream stereotypes. I mean, this sort of thing should have been spotted in the initial read through and fixed in the first edit.

Then there is the constant recapping and repeating of the plot every half a page. As if the reader is meant to have drifted off to do something after reading a few words and needed to be caught up on what they’d just read. This should also have been smoothed out in the editing and the constant rehashing of the plot started to get to me. Add to that that nearly every chapter ended with Hank telling Tina she was off the case, only for the next chapter to start with someone asking her to help them with it and Hank being more than ready to agree. Maybe if I liked soap operas and their need to be overly dramatic I would have been able to cope with this more. Instead I just found it over the top, repetitive and anticlimactic.

I also found the characters rather two-dimensional and hard to read as there was no real emotion given to them and so I couldn’t get why they would go from seeming to be fine one moment to being so very angry, sad or about to faint from some basic news… they’d already been told a few chapters ago but were now treating as if it was new information to them. More depth and description was needed. Again, it was as if the reader was meant to know all this and was just reading the book as Cliffsnotes.

There was also not enough decent description given throughout the book. The only things that were described in a lot of detail were what people looked like and were wearing. This then makes it come across as a rather superficial and shallow story. Everything else is breezed over as if you are meant to know. Just like you’re meant to know about the character’s pasts, possibly from the previous books? Maybe if I had read them all, I wouldn’t have noticed this as much as I would have been caught up on their pasts. Then again, if the other books were written in a similar manner, maybe not?

Would I recommend this book to others? Based on the quality of the ARC, sadly I wouldn’t. If I was told by a reliable source all the above issues had been sorted out in the final edit, then yes I might recommend it. It is, after all, a good cosy crime concept. But if read in the condition I found it in the ARC, people would start to wonder why I would recommend such a thing.

Would I buy this book for myself? Again, based on the ARC I read, probably not. If I was to come across earlier books in the series in my library catalogue, I’d consider maybe reading them to see if they added more background for me (as the story’s concept was good), but I can’t see myself actually buying any of this series, as I would be worried the faults I’ve mentioned were still there. And I would not be happy to have bought a book of that quality.

In summary: I do feel this book has a great deal of potential. The story idea is fresh, fun and a good cosy crime concept. The very poor editing just really let it down for me. If all of that has been fixed up, then I would recommend this book to lovers of cosy crime as it would be a good book to curl up with on a lazy Sunday afternoon. If published in the same condition as I found it in the ARC, I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO


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