- September’s Theme is “New Author”
- On TBR since won the audiobook in July 2023.
- Why I selected it: Leanne Lee is a New-To-Me author.
Audiobook review: Crystals, Belladonna, and Murder by Leanne Leeds
Crystals, Belladonna, and Murder shares the story of Ellie, divorce mother of an adult child with mental and medical issues. Ellie left corporate America and the big city to start a simpler life filled with purpose, so she and her daughter opened a cat rescue in small town Texas. However after five years of quiet, life gets complicated when an elderly local is arrested for killing her husband, and Ellie is tasked with taking care of her aging cat, Belladonna, and the magical tray which allows Belladonna to speak to Evie and Ellie.
I love a good cozy mystery and was excited to give this new-to-me author a try. While Crystals, Belladonna, and Murder had a decent mystery, I felt the overall execution of the story falls flat. The magical item that allows communication with Belladonna is too convenient, and the characters are mostly two-dimensional.
The silver and crystal tray with a hidden compartment is an odd magical item, and there is no explanation of its origins or how Fiona came to possess it. When Belladonna stands on it, she can speak human words, with a large vocabulary and keen understanding of the English language. It’s possible that Fiona taught her 20-year-old cat a thing or two; however it’s implied it works with other cats, too. I find it a bit of a stretch that even though the cats aren’t magical, they have the ability for complex reasoning and language.
Much of the front end of the book is spent learning about Ellie and her daughter, Evie. Unfortunately, I found the pair boring. Evie’s disabilities coupled with Ellie’s reactions felt over the top at times. While it may be an accurate picture of a family with an adult child with disabilities, the time spent on the characters without discussion of the murder detracted from the mystery. Both individuals are fairly simple without a lot of character development. However, Ellie’s worries over a windfall of cash and the reasons she moved to the town and opened up the shelter are genuine and the only time I felt her character was more.
Narration: The story is shared in the first person, past tense of Ellie. The narrator has a softer, slow voice that suits the weary Ellie. The speed of the narrator gives the dialogue a very purposeful sense, even when it’s just banter. Kelly alters each voice based on gender and age, although some characters sound similar. Males are deeper, but also slower, which often comes across as someone with speech issues. The narrator significantly alters her voice for Evie, but she comes across as a preteen rather than a mid-20-something.
In the end, there are a lot of clues tossed around, but they don’t necessarily tie together in an effective manner. Crystals, Belladonna, and Murder held promise, but ultimately disappointed.
About the Book:
A cantankerous former mayor and a dead man with a secret…
A midlife magic gift to a cat rescue in small-town Texas…
A murder mystery that keeps you guessing…
After twenty-five years of being chained to a desk job, Eleanor Rockwell finally made her dream a reality. Before retirement age could issue the forty-five-year-old a watch, she packed up her things and moved a few miles north of Austin with her daughter, Evie, by her side. The mother and daughter started a Silver Circle Cat Rescue in the adorable western town of Scarville, Texas, and they never looked back at the life they’d left behind. With Silver Circle Cat Rescue the county’s largest shelter for lost kitties, it’s no surprise when handsome Deputy Markham brings Belladonna, former mayor Fiona Blackwell’s cat, after she’s arrested for murdering her husband, Beau. But why did the Deputy bring a silver drink tray with strange markings and an otherworldly glow along with the sullen, angry cat—and why is Belladonna talking when she walks on it?
Before Ellie can get any real answers, Fiona Blackwell is murdered after a mysterious geriatric prison escape.
With all this death in the small town, and the sly black cat being cagey, Ellie is sure that Belladonna knows far more than she’s saying—can the Cat Rescue save the cat and crack the case?
Author: Leanne Leeds
Narrator: Meghan Kelly
Series: Silver Circle Cat Rescue Mysteries #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery with Paranormal Elements
Audiobook Release Date: February 10, 2023
Publisher: Leanne Leeds
Length: 6 hrs and 31 mins
Source: won in a contest
Audio Speed: 1.45x
Amazon/Audible (affiliate link)