Thea James has lived her entire life in the small town of Larkindale, California. The owner of an antique shop, she is immersed in plenty of business and surrounded by people who love her. But her quiet life is turned upside down when an unidentified man is found dead at the local resort. Soon thereafter, Thea comes across an antique vase with a list of names inside – and one is her own. As the people on the list are “hit” one by one, Thea must discover the connection between the two mysteries before she finds her own life in peril.
Cathy Elliot’s debut novel, A Vase of Mistaken Identity, is part of the ever-popular mystery genre, in that there is, in fact, a mystery in the book. The problem, however, is that the book has more of a “chick lit” feel, frequently putting the book’s mystery on the back burner for dozens of pages while romance becomes the main topic.
When we meet her, Thea is a Christian hardened toward God by the sequential deaths of her grandpa, dad, and fiancé. Her family members, all followers of Christ, work throughout the book to bring her back into the fold. They do this both by prayer and by bringing Thea to a church service. A little subtlety would have been nice. Most Christian readers will have no major complaints about reading through the inserted three-page sermon; however, it will likely be a sticking point for most non-Christians. For romance to flourish, there must be a male lead. Before she becomes very involved in the mystery, Thea meets a handsome reporter who is covering the story of the resort’s dead body. He, of course, helps Thea throughout the rest of the book. While it sometimes feels as if Elliot is giving the relationship a little too much ink, it does have a nice effect. Still grieving from the aforementioned death of her fiancé, Thea must struggle with moving on in life when she would much rather cling to the past.
Finally, we can address the mystery, which is what we have really been waiting for all along. Unfortunately, the mystery is not as intense as some might desire. Exciting moments are achieved by unrealistic action sequences and a bundle of blonde moments experienced by Thea. Most of the clues discovered by our heroine actually have no real significance regarding the case. In the end, the answer is not only something that no one would guess but also something no one would actually believe. And that is not meant in an “Oh, that’s so clever” sense.
In conclusion, this book is not for anyone looking for an intense mystery. If you are searching for the Christian Nancy Drew, you should definitely keep looking. However, others with only the desire for a bit of mystery just to serve in bringing the main gal and main guy together will find this book quite entertaining. – Bethany DuVal, Christian Book Previews.com
Thea James, proprietress of James & Company Antique Emporium, never thought murder would come to her small town of Larkindale. But when the Larkindale Lamplight reports the discovery of a body during a renovation project, Thea is caught up in the mystery. The drama becomes intensely personal when Thea discovers a puzzling list inside a vintage vase . . . and her name is on it! Follow this small-town antiques dealer as she becomes a relentless detective on the trail of a killer in this page-turner.