BOOK REVIEW: Manuscript for Murder by Chautona Havig

Alexa Hartfield. Author, local celebrity, fashion connoisseur. She chose Fairbury for its close proximity to Rockland, its small town atmosphere, and its low crime rate.

Then someone made her life a literary cliché. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far she’s considering giving up writing completely.

Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?

It's no secret that Chautona is one of my new favorite authors.  When this book came up for tour with Celebrate Lit I had to jump at the chance to get it and also insist that Kristin from A Simply Enchanted Life did as well.  I mean what is the point in having a book bestie without also sharing new favorite authors so they can love them too?  While not my favorite Chautona noel thus far, 'Manuscript for Murder' has all the elements I need in a book.  Defined characters to love (and despise), a mystery that keeps me a bit on edge, and satisfying conflict and drama and conversation.  And...oh the ands I could add.

Alexa is so far from cliche' that she becomes cliche'.  I love that about her.  She's the embodiment of her own person down to the choice of wardrobe that brings so many questions and sometimes unwanted attention.  While setting herself up to live and dress as she wishes (part of non-cliche') she draws attention to herself for her period-esque wardrobe that adds to her allure as a murder mystery writer (making her cliche').  Wardrobe aside she's like that in most every facet of her life.  She makes her own choices, much to the dismay of her family, goes where she wants when she wants.  And writes books about murder, and justice.  And she explains it so much better than I ever could.  

However, when her work in progress comes to life the rest becomes back drop and filler.  I mean it's not even a book yet that someone can read and copycat, it's a work in progress that no one has seen.  No. One.  Well, outside the parts she writes while her cop friend Joe is hanging around the house.  Writes sorta kinda maybe on purpose to try and create a diversion.  Even that comes to life.  The red herring becomes a herring, the what the gravy becomes grits and gravy it really just turns full circle and I don't have enough 'Fizzyisms' to cover it all.  What does seem possible is and what seems impossible isn't and it wraps you up in a nice warm shawl and becomes and amazing book.

Why?  I know you are begging for me to tell you why it's only 4 stars if I loved the book and adore the author.  Well, it pains me to state this but I felt sorta lost through parts of the book.  Hints were dropped that left me confused for long parts of the story which I felt like detracted from other things.  I get why it was handled that way and I get that I'm frequently more confused than not.  But...  I feel like the way some things from Alexa's personal life was revealed throughout the book would almost have been better if the hints hadn't been dropped.  And that things were hinted and and danced around that were never quite resolved for me.  That's me though, not you.  This book is an amazing mystery (and yes it did keep me guessing almost until the end) with all the things I never realized a murder mystery needed until I met Alexa. 

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by CelebrateLit.  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review. 

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Manuscript for Murder (The Hartfield Mysteries, #1)

About Chautona Havig 
 I am fortunate enough to live in the great state of California (in the Mojave Desert) with my husband Kevin and five of my nine children. My eldest is married with five children, so I have the fun of a son-in-law and grandbabies to enjoy. I’ve graduated six out of my nine children from our home school, and they’re all doing quite well in their lives. My younger children keep me from getting too selfish, and someday I’ll be fully retired as their teacher. I have to say, I’m lookin’ forward to it. Teaching about gerunds was fun the first time… not so much anymore. I salute all of those in the education field. You are my heroes.

When I’m not writing (which I admit isn’t often) I enjoy blogging (a totally different kind of writing, trust me), paper crafts, sewing, smocking, photo editing, and old music. No, really, I like OLD stuff… the Beatles are too newfangled for me. Yeah,I know they’re before my time… but I like stuff before my PARENTS time.

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  1. Mysteries are my favorite genre of books.

  2. well this does sound interesting. my daughter would love this book.
    quilting dash lady at Comcast dot net

  3. I think your assessment of Alexis is spot-on. She reminds me of Willow in Ms. Havig's "Past Forward" series.

  4. Thank you for such a fun and thoughtful review. Alexa is one of my favorite characters, and Cathe Swanson is right, she and Willow have some elements in common--namely being completely comfortable in their own, highly-unusual skins!

  5. I sure liked this book! Your review was a lot of fun - I'm going to have to check out more of your reviews!!