“It all started when I saw myself dead.”
I’m a sucker for first lines. I had to keep reading.
Presuming she will not live for long Rose makes a list of things she wants to do before she dies. She decides to “commit all seven deadly sins in one week”, which is also wish number two on her list of Twenty-Eight wishes that she scribbles on the back of a receipt.
But everything changes when she returns home and finds her mother murdered. She becomes the number one suspect and the people in town are only too happy to see her convicted. Her life begins to unravel before her eyes. Can she live long enough to fulfill her wishes or will she be arrested by the police or murdered by Crocker?
Henryetta may have been a fairly safe town but it is also a town where nothing happens and a murder in their midst is like an event. The town is also so stereotypically full of gossips who love to embellish the truth that it is hard to like anyone there.
Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes was evenly paced and the mystery drags you further into the story yet there were several incidents I found odd in the story.
The police come off as being so inefficient they can’t solve a mystery in their midst. They consider Rose the main suspect and do not appear to follow any leads. At no time do they bother to check her alibi but behave like the rest of the neighbors in thinking she is guilty.
Rose is a very docile and uninspiring character. It is hard to imagine her being a “detective” when she can’t even take control of her own life as she lets her mother boss her for 20 something years. But suddenly, minutes after her mother is murdered not only does she become a different person she also becomes a detective who tries to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process she becomes embroiled in a case the police from another state are involved in. She doesn’t bother to correct the Henryetta police when they make her the main suspect or inform them she has a very good alibi, nor does she bother to tell her sister about her visions, the break in to the house or anything else. She appears to be totally unconcerned about being a victim and has no commonsense to even keep shut or follow her lawyer’s advice which is at odds with the assumption that she is a detective. The fact that she has grown up being the victim and has been conditioned to be docile and accepting because of her domineering mother, or that the neighbors consider her an odd person because of her visions may have something to do with Rose being the uninspiring person she is. But when she changes into a whole new person who appears to be strong and confident just minutes after her mother’s death it doesn’t quite come through as being believable.
Not only does Rose remain in the house – a murder scene – she also cleans up the murder site and starts painting the walls as if nothing happened. She also chooses her mother’s untimely death to get a full makeover, not even waiting until after the funeral, because, well, she doesn’t have time to live and she needs to complete the twenty-eight and a half wishes soon – make up and getting sexy underwear being two of her wishes on the list, as is getting kissed, which she accomplishes through her neighbor. She even hints at other things he might help her with.
I was curious to know what happened and it wasn’t too difficult to keep reading. Denise Grover Swank knows how to write but she could have made her main character more likable, considering this is supposed to be the first in a series of Rose Gardner Mystery books. She could also have made it more believable. As it is, it was more like a badly thought out story than a mystery with a love story thrown in for special effect as it were.