I just finished reading MURDER ON BLACK SWAN LANE by Andrea Penrose. I’ve been on a bit of a historical mystery binge lately. Enough so, I’m ready to read a contemporary mystery next with a concise, crisp writing style. I love the abundance of words and description when I read a Regency… or for that matter, most historical novels. They’re not wordy. They’re effusive. And the long, twisty and turning sentences add to the flavor of the time period and the writing.

In this book, there was the added matter of the hero exalting science and logic and the heroine favoring the arts and intuition. Every once in a while, the arguments between the two got to be too much for me. They detracted from the mystery, but only occasionally. Most of the time, the antics of the hero and heroine kept me plenty entertained. As a matter of fact, the bickering between Wexford and Charlotte was a highlight for me. Charlotte was a feminist who was ahead of her time. And Wexford, for all of his logical detachment, was every bit her equal. The mystery itself kept me guessing, so I really enjoyed the book. But it made me think about readers.

Authors don’t need to beat them over the head to make a point. Readers are SMART. A hint here. A subtle clue there, and they pick up on them. Repetition makes them yawn. Yes, they got it the first time. If not, they noticed it the second time you mentioned it, and they’re sick of it if you bring it up again.

They remember from one book to the next and remember stories that stretch months between books. But philosophical discussions? How deep do authors need to get? Charlotte and Wrexford’s story engaged me. Even the minor characters were well-done. But the author returned over and over again to her philosophical discussions. To entertain the reader, or to make a point? It felt like the latter. And it really slowed me down.

Hope you’ve found some great books to read lately!