Book Review: Front Page News

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Book Review:  Front Page News by Katie Rowney

Stacey is a newspaper reporter in the tiny country (and fictional) Queensland town of Toomey. She spends her time reporting on council meetings and bowls’ tournaments until suddenly a body is found in such a state that it’s fairly obvious a murder has taken place. So, of course, Stacey begins to investigate. Soon, the body count rises, as does the suspect list, and Stacey’s chances of becoming the next victim.

If there’s one thing that has happened since the introduction of ebooks, it’s the boost in popularity of the cosy mystery genre. I can honestly say the genre wasn’t even on my radar before the purchase of my ereader. And whilst I will not class them as literature, I (and many many others) do find them entertaining.

They all follow a pretty standard formula. Often written in the first person, with a female protagonist who’s a ‘quirky’ character, they’re set in a small town, and the authors spice up their plots with the use of ‘colourful’ supporting characters.

Front Page News isn’t any different. This meant I needed to ignore certain unbelievable aspects of the plot at times. One thing in particular being the lack of any outside/city police task force and/or media interest in the case. (Serial murder cases are not exactly commonplace in Australia and would definitely draw attention no matter how isolated the town.)

As there are so many cosy mysteries out there, authors usually try to have one thing in their books that makes them unique from all the others on the market. Magic, ghosts, talking cats (there’s always an obligatory cat), 1920s aristocrats etc etc. In this case, the thing that sets it apart is the Australian setting and language.

I’ve lived in a couple of extremely small outback Queensland towns (one’s population was merely 3000 and it was approximately 10 hours drive to the first big city) and the descriptions of the social activities of the town portrayed here were spot on. Balls and race days and sporting events were the highlights on everyone’s calendar.

The language and style of the characters also is authentically Aussie. (Except for this one insane section where the writer — or perhaps the editor??? — slips into American spelling and speech patterns. It was, thankfully, only brief.)

Stacey’s age grated a little. She was extremely confident for a 21 year old. Then again, her youth worked for the reason she was in Toomey in the first place, so… *shrug*

The identity of the murderer was maybe a little too obvious and their reasons a little too cliched. I hope in future ‘Toomey Times’ books we get a little more as a motive. However, there was one slight twist that I thought was clever (spoiler! I’ll just say it had to do with the town’s urban myth).

The romance was subtle. Perhaps a little too subtle at times for my liking, but I think most readers of this genre aren’t looking for any erotic sex scenes anyway.

All in all I’d recommend this book to readers who are looking for an authentic Aussie cosy mystery.

4 out of 5
PS I must mention the cover. I don’t think it suits the book at all and if I was advising the publishers, I would seriously recommend changing it for later editions. This book is completely a cosy mystery, and this cover makes me believe it’s a romance.

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