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A Deadly Row (A Mystery by the Numbers #1) – Casey Mayes

A Deadly Row (A Mystery by the Numbers #1) – Casey MayesTitle: A Deadly Row (A Mystery By the Numbers #1) by Casey Mayes
Publishing Info: September 7, 2010 by Penguin
Source: Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 6, 2012

    Capturing the hot new craze: The new Math Puzzle mystery series.
Math whiz Savannah Stone makes a living creating Math puzzles in rural North Carolina. But when the mayor starts receiving death threats, Savannah needs to solve this puzzle-before the next box to be filled is the mayor's coffin.

Breaking It Down Further: Savannah Stone and her husband Zach moved to rural North Carolina after he was forced to retire from the police force in Charlotte due to a gun shot wound on the job, but when his old crew is facing a series of murders and their old friend the mayor seems to be the prime suspect, Savannah and Zach head back to the city to help solve the murders and clear the mayor’s good name. With the murderer leaving puzzles for clues, Savannah gets the chance to help her husband solve the crimes before more bodies turn up.

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First off — the cover has nothing to do with anything in the book. Not sure where they came up with that illustration. As for a review, I was really disappointed in this book. I actually found myself trying to rush through it because I was so bored. I don’t like not completing books so I didn’t give up on it, but I felt like it was really poorly written and I didn’t enjoy any of the characters in the book. I felt like no real investigation happened (or was revealed to the reader to bring them into the story) until almost 3/4 into the novel. The first quarter is a set up of what happened, the middle is Zach staring at evidence while Savannah has meals with her old friends and/or suspects in the town, and finally towards the end, the action finally starts to pick up. Throw in some family secrets from Savannah’s past, and there’s the story. It just did not flow well, very little action to keep me interested, and the answer to who the killer was just seemed thrown together. Compared to all of the cozy mysteries that are out there, this definitely did not stack up. And for being a “mystery by the numbers”, not a whole lot of clues were given to the reader. It was one puzzle that Savannah got bit by bit and wasn’t even that interesting. Lastly, I felt like for half of the story there was a lot of tension between Savannah and Zach. It was like they were constantly taking jabs at each other and then saying “Just kidding” to make it not tense, or someone being jealous for no reason, or being selfish regarding their plans and/or how to proceed with investigation. It just seemed to me like they weren’t a very cohesive couple and just did not make them likable characters.

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2/5 stars
It wasn’t awful enough to completely rule it out. I really wasn’t happy with it, but I was able to at least finish.

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If You Liked This, You Might Like (Or in this case, you might like better)…
The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison — This was a better written math whiz/puzzle creator-turned-detective book. Although this one didn’t really feature puzzles throughout the novel either, the characters were much more likable and I found it to be a lot more enjoyable!
…OR…
Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath — I just finished this one not too long ago (see my previous review!) and although it may not have the same feel as a math-based murder mystery, I thought it was a great read!