The Apothecary’s Demise by Anne Sloan

I had some free time while home sick and picked this up as a light and enjoyable sort of read. You might recall the first of these two books, Murder on the Boulevard, which I read a few months ago. I ended up with a slightly mixed review: the mystery was not stellar as genre fiction, but it was satisfactory; the writing and production (self-published) were not extremely professional; but the story itself, and the characters, and overwhelmingly, the setting, were so likable and comfortable that I enjoyed it overall.

The same rings true for the second book; except if anything, I enjoyed it even more. I think I had come to terms with the fact that the writing was not perfectly polished; I expected less in that regard (sounds nasty, doesn’t it. not trying to be). And I really adore the historic Houston Heights setting and all the local, historical detail. As I said before, there’s nothing like reading about your own backyard, as it were. And the names dropped (like Teas the nursery man) are great fun when you’re in on the jokes. So, perhaps someone not from Houston wouldn’t find these books quite so charming, but I most certainly did.

In this sequel to Murder on the Boulevard, Flora and Max are attached but not yet engaged, which surprised me; I thought it was a foregone conclusion at the end of Murder. Max leaves town (to see Wilson inaugurated in DC with Jesse Jones), and Flora finds herself caught up – reluctantly – in another murder mystery: in fact, another apparent suicide. In trying to help some friends of friends out of trouble, solve a double murder, and unravel the mysterious illness of her best friend since childhood, Flora finds herself aggressively courted by a newcomer to town. I found this book easy to read, entertaining, and extremely comfortable in its hometown flavor – I loved picturing the streets and settings as they were described. I’m pleased to give Anne Sloan a positive review in the end.

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