Book Review – The Puffin of Death (A Gunn Zoo Mystery) by Betty Webb.

The Puffin of Death

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Poison Pen Press for an ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

An enjoyable cosy crime/ mystery book set in Iceland – a country I’ve always wanted to visit so enjoyed the literary scenery.

Despite what I’m about to say below, I really did enjoy this book, found it a good read and do hope my very minor criticisms will be seen for what they are. This was a good book brought down by editing and continuity issues.

In some ways ‘The Puffin of Death’ deserved a slightly higher score than what I gave. If I did half scores it would definitely have gotten three and a half, closer to a four. However, it had continuity issues that had me score it lower than it possibly deserved. And I only say that, as this was an ARC and I do prey these minor issues were sorted out in the final edit before publishing.

And I’m not talking about the smattering of typos through-out the book; I am the typo queen so never lower the score I give a book for those. But when things started to be repeated in the book as if they’d not been mentioned before – like growling puffins seen at the first death scene forgotten until our protagonist returns to the same location and they growl at her… again, but for the first time! There were two or three other moments where it was a rehash – almost word for word – of what had already been said earlier in the book, and yet it was treated as if it had never been mentioned. As much as I would have liked to ignore such issues – as an ARC issue isn’t the final product – it did get grating the more often it happened and so did affect my end score.

Please note this is all said as constructive criticism! I’m not bagging the book or the author’s ability, simply explaining why I wasn’t as in love with the book as I’d hoped.

We won’t even go into ‘The Puffin of Death’ being about the fourth book in a series I’d not read before. I blame myself, the reader, to have made a choice to read it out of sync. It’s not something I usually relish doing, but I did find it an enjoyable and easy enough read to not feel I needed to have read the whole series to know who was who and what was going on. That is some good writing – writing part of a series but allowing it to be open enough for someone new to adventures to feel right at home, not as if they’ve come in mid-conversation and feel they’re missing something vital. So a big positive there.

Would I recommend this book to others? As a cosy/crime mystery I probably would. Though I would warn them about the issue I had with this ARC and hope they had been sorted out in the final edit.

Would I buy this book for myself? Possibly. However, I’d be tentative to do so until I knew for sure that the editing issues had been sorted out. Same goes for the rest of the series. If I saw them at my local library, I would definitely borrow them for a read as I did enjoy the writing style, protagonist and scene setting… but it hasn’t enthused me enough to go out and buy them. Perhaps, once I’ve had a chance to read the rest in the series, I will change my mind. I can be fickle that way. 😉

In summary – a good, light hearted mystery with a lovely blend and balance of action, mystery, scenery and colourful characters. I just hope the tiny creases in continuity have been sorted out in the final edit. A series to keep an eye out for as it holds a lot of potential.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

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