Book Report: Old Acquaintances by Ursula Gorman (2010)

Book coverI bought this book at ABC Books in the summer of 2021. The book is dated 2010, and the author’s signature is from 2018, so this is either before I started hitting as many of the ABC Books signings as I could, one that fell between the cracks, or one that the author signed for stocking.

At any rate, the story is about the owner of a boutique who seems to have a stalker. Who apparently starts killing people she knows or knew–one murder is the family at a house where someone she knew used to live.

The book is leavened with almost a bit of tension with the man whom she thought of as a brother as her mother took him in when his rich parents died and who has been her constant friend since. But he’s engaged to be married, which leaves her free to feel the flutterings for the handsome police detective on her case.

So it’s a bit of a cottage mystery, with a side order of romance. It’s a bit thin on the prose, which is better than being overdone, and the book is a short 140 pages, so it’s not long enough to be annoying. Next time I’m through John Donnelly’s Gold, I’m definitely going to gauge myself according to this new metric I have for prose: the density of it, contrasting paragraphs versus dialog and complexity of sentences to express meaning. I mean, Robert B. Parker, for example, wrote better when he had longer paragraphs, but not so much later when he relied mostly on dialog and stage directions. It’s kind of akin to my length-of-line metric for poetry, I suppose, but there’s something to it.

Another thing that struck me about this book was a certain similarity to Finding Lizzy Smith by Susan Keene which I read earlier this year. In both, people close to the female protagonist are getting killed. I wonder topically how often this happens in cozies–I don’t read many of them, Murder, She Wrote books that I read every seven or eight years. So I don’t know how much of a trope it is.

In researching this post, I see that the author published another book in 2012 which was to be the first in a trilogy. But nothing after, and her Internet presence is a Tripod site that has not been updated in years. This saddens me somehow, even though we’ve never met.

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