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A Shot of Murder – 5 Star Book Review

Welcome to one of the November 10th review stops on the blog tour for A Shot of Murder by Brenda Gayle, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and a giveaway! (More on that at the end of this post.)

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means there is no additional cost to you if you shop using my links, but I will earn a small percentage in commission. A program-specific disclaimer is at the bottom of this post.

About the Book

A Shot of Murder
A Charley Hall Mystery Book One
by Brenda Gayle

Published 12 October 2020
by Bowstring Books

Genre: Historical Mystery
Page Count: 150
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!

In 1948, Charley Hall resents giving up her job as city reporter for the Kingston Tribune to a returning soldier. But her demotion to the women’s pages is the least of her worries since Gran is organizing a surprise birthday party for Charley’s older brother, Freddie. Trouble is, Freddie hasn’t come back from his latest bender. When Charley goes looking for him, she discovers the dead body of a woman, last seen with her brother. Beside the murdered woman is a torn newspaper article about local politician Dan Cannon, who also happens to be Charley’s best friend. To make matters worse, a police detective from Toronto shows up and begins nosing around. Charley is not about to stand by and let her brother nor her friend take a fall for a murder based on circumstantial evidence. Not by a long shot.

Currently on sale in Kindle ebook format for just $0.99 USD!

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My Review

My Rating: 5 Stars!

I received a complimentary copy of A Shot of Murder by the author via Goddess Fish Promotions in exchange for an honest review as part of my participation in the blog tour for this title. Thank you to both Brenda Gayle and Goddess Fish Promotions for the opportunity! This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

It’s 1947 and Kington’s first and only female reporter has just been demoted to the women’s interest column in favour of reallocating her high profile job to a returned soldier, but Charley has no intention of stepping down. She’s got an alcoholic brother to find, and while she’s looking for him she stumbles across a murder that will both tie far-flung parts of her life together in new ways, and also throw her life into chaos.

I could not put this book down! No word of exaggeration, I read it in less than 3 hours. Gayle has crafted a mystery that kept me guessing right to the very end while also writing accurate historical fiction that made my little historian heart sing. And the setting is in Canada! What more could I ask for?

The entire book is told from one point of view, that of Charley, who is absolutely my kind of woman. She’s sharp, fiercely independent, knows what she’s worth, and won’t go down without a fight. She’s also compassionate and loyal to a fault. It was very easy to place myself in her role as I read and empathize with her the whole way.

The rest of the cast were very vivid as well. I loved Fiona’s ferocity and bright mind, Dan’s passion and kindness, and Mark’s stubbornness. Although I must admit Mark comes off rather stalkerish for much of the book, and Charley certainly notices that, I do hope they form a friendship and work together as the series continues. He seems like more of a misunderstood benevolent than the bad guy in plain sight as his role could have leaned into, and he does make some rather honourable decisions and gestures as the plot progresses that I hope Charley noticed.

I appreciate the fact that this novel doesn’t shy away from showing the dark and dirty side of surviving trauma, both in alcoholic former POW brother Freddie’s story and in other characters with histories of more domestic horrors. The way these characters do or don’t deal with their traumas, and the way their friends and families handle it, are both so accurate to the reality of PTSD and addictions in general but also true to how this was handled (or rather not handled) in the 1940s.

I also appreciate the correctly incorrect science in this book, and I love that sometimes it lead to the correct conclusions anyway. For example, the fact that “two blue eyed parents cannot have a brown eyed child” and therefor if you see that family arrangement somebody’s lying actually lead Charley to a correct accusation (kind of) even eye colour has since been proven to be far from a single gene with simple dominant and recessive options situation. I actually highlighted that when it was first brought up to look it up and see when that bit of science was corrected, historically, but Gayle addresses it in the afterward, so it was absolutely intentional. Personally I am the brown eyed daughter of a hazel eyed mother and a blue eyed father, but his mother had brown. If blue were a simple recessive in a single-gene system he wouldn’t have been able to pass his mother’s brown to me. Charley would say he’s not my father.

I was hoping that the afterward would specifically address the Mary Brown alias present in this book. I was secretly hoping the Mary Brown role was based on something real in Canadian history so that I could go off researching conspiracy theories linking it to the Mary Brown’s restaurant chain, which is basically Newfoundland’s answer to KFC. Since it wasn’t mentioned, I’ll assume the alias was invented for the story and the matching name is a coincidence, unless Brenda Gayle herself pops in and tells me otherwise. (Or unless I get really bored some time.)

All in all this was an excellent book, and I’ve now taken about a third of my reading time compiling my thoughts into this review because I have so much to say but I can’t spoil anything for you. It’s a mystery book. That’s the genre you don’t spoil! So instead I will urge everyone who enjoys mystery, historical fiction, or stories set in Canada to pick up this book and keep an eye out for the sequel.

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About the Author

Life is messy and I try to reflect that in my stories while still leaving readers with a feeling of hope. I want them to see themselves and people they know in my characters.

You could say writing is in my genes. My paternal grandmother was a formidable diarist; my father was a journalist and poet; my sister and cousin are both published authors; even my son has shown a talent for putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to tell awesome stories. So, it came as no surprise to anyone when I returned to my love of fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communications–although some might argue there was plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too.

A fan of many genres, I find it hard to stay within the publishing industry’s prescribed boxes. Whether it’s mystery, romantic suspense or women’s fiction—my greatest joy is creating deeply emotional books with memorable characters and compelling stories.

I love hearing from readers. You can connect with me via my website at BrendaGayle.com

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Giveaway Alert!

One lucky follower of the tour will walk away with a $30 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card, winner’s choice!

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Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Jenna is the artist/illustrator and author behind Westveil Publishing and its sub-banner platforms Jenna Gets Creative and The Westveil Archives. She live in Newfoundland, Canada with her husband, daughter, and feline overlords.

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