I have a pet peeve about books that read like greatly extended magazine articles where the writer reports a story using events, facts, and conversations instead of telling it and giving the reader the pleasure of experiencing something exciting, interesting, and entertaining. Although the great prologue begs to differ, Reba White Williams unfortunately feeds my pet peeve with Restrike, No. 1 of her Coleman and Dinah Green Mystery series. Kindle version at Amazon
Restrike centres around two cousins who come from simple beginnings, and are to be much admired for their success. Coleman is the owner of and contributing writer to ArtSmart magazine, who trundles her cute little Maltese around in a carrier, and Dinah is a Greenwich Village gallery owner.
A lot happens here. Amidst emerging and increasingly complicated personal circumstances, cutthroat rivalry, and eccentric art connoisseurs, multiple independent and interconnected themes emerge: murder, stolen artwork, and a competing magazine that appears to have lifted the best story ideas from ArtSmart's repository, suggesting a disgruntled employee leaking information.
An impoverished middle man set to get rich from the auction of a valuable print is brutally murdered. Coleman is suspicious of the motive, however the police see no connection to the art world and view the case as a likely sex crime. When one of her writers begins to investigate and is likewise killed, the guilt-ridden Coleman continues to search for answers. She is assisted by former NYPD cop Robert Mondelli, an investigator who specializes in art crimes, who I bet will become her love interest in future books.
Throw in several characters with secret pasts and hidden connections, including the eccentric billionaire Heyward Bain who wishes to establish a print museum, and the intimidating and threatening Maxwell Arnold, who knows way too much damning information about the cousins. Then there's Rachel Ransome, who inherited her London gallery from a man with the same last name, yet their relationship is anything but clear.
Some twists are so far fetched they not only make guessing whodoneanything impossible, but they just don't make the story believable.
I thought that I would enjoy Restrike, because it dealt with the mysteries and intrigue of the art world. It seemed to have a lot of potential to be an entertaining read. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. I definitely tried to get into it, but with too many subplots, complications, and a multitude of characters, Restrike takes on way too much, and the feel is generally disjointed. (The recap near the end, however, is very helpful.)
The two cousins are interesting enough characters to easily develop a following in this type of mystery genre. Perhaps book No. 2 will be an improvement.