Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pretty is as Pretty Dies - Review

*Editor's Note: Welcome again to reviewer Ariel Heart. This time I'm interested in reader comments... did this review give you enough information? Has it made you want to read the book? Skip it? Let us know!

Pretty is as Pretty Dies

by Elizabeth Spann Craig

216 pages
Publisher: MIDNIGHT INK (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0738714801
ISBN-13: 978-0738714806

Myrtle Clover is eighty-something and has an attitude. Don't get her started! When her son Red signs her up for "altar duty" at church to keep her out of his hair, she retaliates with filling her front yard chock full of gnomes. Why? Because she lives across the street from her son and it is a daily reminder he has angered her. Yes, Myrtle is a handful.

A gnome village miraculously mushroomed overnight in Myrtle’s yard while Red slept. Ceramic gnome characters, all engaged in a variety of cute activities, graced her front lawn. Elaine walked past her kitchen window. She blinked. ‘’Oh Lord. Your mom’s called out the gnome patrol, Red. What did you do?”

“What?” Red pushed the curtain aside. He groaned and pressed his hands against his eyes, hoping when he opened them the image of a hundred ceramic gnomes cluttering his mother’s yard across the street would have vanished. He was disappointed.

The altar duty her son signed her up for is the reason that she stumbles upon the body of detested local real estate agent Parke Stockard in the church sanctuary. Myrtle takes this as a perfect opportunity to show her son she isn't senile nor is she ready for a life of soap operas.

There is some humor between Red (who is the Chief of Police) and Myrtle when Red conspires to let Myrtle overhear false clues and send her on wild goose chase to keep her out of trouble. But Myrtle takes the wild goose chase and uncovers Parke having an affair with the local politician. Myrtle is more than a match for her son and she quickly has a list of suspects. Was it the local politician, or maybe his wife, perhaps it was Parke’s drug-using son, the town reporter, the reporter’s mother is even a suspect. It seems too many people wanted troublesome Parke gone.

What Myrtle really needs, as she sees it, is a side kick! Will the new-to-the-area older gentleman take up the job and assist Myrtle? Will Myrtle's never subtle snooping get her in trouble with the real killer? This is the classic cozy with tongue-in-cheek humor and small town antics. It is deceptively simple while it draws you in adding to the charm of the overall story. The wrap-up of the murder is adequate and the town and characters are nicely brought to life. The only drawback is, it seems short, but perhaps that is a sign of how the reader is drawn into the story.

A.F. Heart

About the reviewer: Ms. Heart is a Colorado gal who does not like snow but loves the low bug population. She has been told she was an odd child for playing Cleopatra with her Barbies and dressing up her poodle. She is taking that active imagination and writing her first novel. She shares her writing progress (and much more) on her blog “Mysteries and My Musings.”

Four 'Cozy Armchairs' out of five!


  1. Cozy mysteries are just plain fun. There's danger, but it's not too violent. There are colourful characters and plenty of fun. Added bonus: they don't take too long to read. I do want to read Elizabeth's book. Thanks for the review, Ariel!


  2. Thanks so much for the really generous review! I'm so glad you enjoyed my book and I appreciate your featuring it here.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. Pretty is as Pretty Dies is definitely on my Must Be Read list!

  4. Myrtle sounds like a fun main character. What's not to love about someone who fills her yard in gnomes as an act of retaliation!