Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Nursing a Grudge by Chris Well

I believe most owners of e-$.99.  Not having a Kindle, I hopped over to BN to see if the same offer was available for Nooks.  It was, and I purchased all three books - Nursing A Grudge, Burying the Hatchet, and Knock'em Dead.  All three books revolve around Earl Walker, a former bus driver whose career ended when a bullet left him in a wheelchair for life.  When his wife died, Earl settled into a quasi-hermit life.
As Nursing A Grudge Opens, Earl has lived at Candlewick Retirement Community for over five years, yet he has never ventured outside his apartment except when necessary. Now he has received notice that the state has decided the retirement community must close.  Within weeks he will need to find a new place to live.
 It is only when Jenny Hutton, a young college student and member of the New Love Fellowship Church takes Earl on as a "project" does he attend a social gathering held at another resident's apartment.  It is there that Earl first meets Gloria Logan. When George Kent makes rude remarks to her, Earl speaks up to protect her.  Could he possibly have romantic feelings after so many years?  Such a thought is quickly dashed when George Kent dies, apparently poisoned.  As Earl and Jenny begin to gather clues, Earl can not deny that they point toward Gloria.  Could that sweet lady who calls him "Blue Eyes" and makes his heart flutter a little actually be a murderer?  Earl will not stop until he knows the truth. Hopefully, he will figure it all out before the complex closes and all the residents scatter to new apartments elsewhere.

Book two, Burying the Hatchet, picks up several months later.  Earl has settled into a new living situation and has a girlfriend (you can guess who that is).  The relationship with Jenny, whom he calls "College" has continued and grown.  Now Earl even attends church with her and has joined the new members' group.
Then the pastor speaks out against a so-called psychic who claims he can help the police solve several recent suspicious deaths of elderly within the community.  When the psychic is found stabbed minutes after hundreds of people saw the pastor leaves a well publicized meeting between the two, he becomes not the prime suspect, but the ONLY suspect.  Naturally, it falls to Earl, "College" Jenny, and the girlfriend (of course, you can figure out who that is) to prove the pastor innocent.

I felt that author laid good ground work for a series in the first book.  By its end, I had a feel for Earl, Jenny, and Gloria.  I immediately started the second book and felt the pace was right on.  I liked the details about Earl's new life and his need for some romantic advice from the pastor. Just like the first book, there was some "bumbling humor" to lighten things up.  In a finely crafted mystery, the reader should captivated as the sleuth tries to unravel what really transpired and " whodunnit." Instead I became bored with Earl's attempts to figure it all out, but can't quite identify why.  I still like the characters and their unfolding personal stories, but something was missing.  The suspense and interest just stalled for me.  That leads me to speculate something.  I believe these books are available in e-format only.  That may indicate self-publication, but I don't know.  I know the first book was reviewed on Publisher Weekly and did receive some praise, but I am wondering what the editing process was for this series.  From what I've read and learned from author appearances is that good editors make good books BETTER.  Chris Wells has the foundation for a good series, but there needs to be some tweaking.  Hopefully, he partners with excellent editiors in the future.  I wish him success and would like to see more of Earl, Jenny, and ??? the romantic interest. 

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