Clara and Iris, two sweet elderly ladies in their seventies, have been best friends almost their entire lives. Both widowed, they try retirement and decide there’s too much time in a day to waste on knitting and watching television. So, naturally, they start their own private investigation. Then there’s Detective Pitts and his best bud, Detective Nettles, who actually solve crimes—to be specific, murders. When a horrific murder case forces these two unlikely pairs to cross paths, the detectives may find the old ladies have more help to offer than they would have thought.
I received this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All comments and opinions are entirely my own.
*Some readers may consider this review to contain spoilers. -This disclaimer has been requested
From the beginning, I loved the idea of two old ladies starting their own detective agency. So you could say I was hooked before I even opened the novel. And, for the most part, it was everything I’d hoped it would be. I loved all the main characters: polite and reserved Clara, spicy and naïve Iris, responsible Quita, hot-tempered Detective Nettles and dedicated Detective Pitts. Even the side characters (and there were many of them) each had distinct traits so that I was almost immediately intrigued after each introduction.
One element about Murder Among the Tombstones I loved was Carter’s writing style. I learned several new words thanks to her unique vocabulary. And there’s something about the setting and flow of the story that feels so warm and inviting and hard to put down. The dialogue felt very realistic and I found myself laughing out loud several times over Iris’s antics.
As for the mystery, I was immediately pulled in. The main murder case was horrifying and it soon became clear it was a serial killer. About halfway through the book, we entered the heads of the murderer and his latest victim. I was disgusted by the murderer’s thoughts and dying to know who he was. It was clear to me that he was a psychopath based on the way he handled his victims. And, of course, I’m hoping beyond hope that his latest victim will escape unscathed.
But this wasn’t the only mystery we were trying to solve. There was also another involving a drug gang, a crazy pregnant lady, several shootings and more that Detectives Pitts and Nettles got deeply involved in. So between that and the murder case, I was itching to find out how these two cases related and how they were going to be resolved.
Honestly, I was racing toward the finish line. I had a few guesses as to who our murderers could be and I was more than ready for the big reveal.
And that’s when the excitement ended for me. Detective Pitts, while thinking about the drug gang case, suddenly somehow put two and two together and “figured out” who the murderer was in the other case. He did some research to confirm his suspicions and approached the criminal before having him arrested. Boom. Done.
First of all, I was and am totally confused how he connected the dots. What about the murderer was suspicious to him to start researching his background? As for the actual murderer…I feel completely betrayed. For starters, what about his latest victim? Why wasn’t he searching frantically for her? But most disappointing of all, he ended up being just some random dude introduced a couple chapters before. How on earth was I supposed to figure that out? Which I guess is just it: there was no way. So not only was the actual arrest anti-climatic and not only was he someone I’d just met, but when he explained why he’d killed the young girls, he just sounded like a guy with a hot temper rather than a cool, calculating psychopath. Which leaves me feeling even more confused about his motives.
As for Clara and Iris’ investigation, it ended in a similar way. They caught two characters red-handed (characters we’d just met a few chapters before!) and while they were involved in the crime, it was in an aspect I wasn’t even aware I should be curious about. Then, come to find out they did it because of some sad backstory. It was an interesting move, but I felt completely detached because again, I’d just met them. I think it was supposed to be a plot twist, but I was not even aware these characters existed, let alone that there was more than one aspect to the murders to consider.
And then it ended. Just like that. Clara and Iris didn’t discuss the results with the victim’s surviving sister. And the other drug gang case just sort of flopped and there was no discussion over that either. After laughing and gasping with these characters and flipping pages fiercely to the conclusion, I was left feeling completely jipped.
In conclusion, it’s hard for me to say how I really feel about this book. Because I loved it up until the last two chapters. But when I reflect on it as a whole, I feel disappointed and confused. After some consideration, though, I decided to give Murder Among the Tombstones 4 out of 5 stars. I would say the story and characters up until the ending is worth a 5 and the conclusion worth a 3, so I think 4 is a happy medium. One thing to keep in mind is that there is a lot of harsh language and some mature content. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother me as much as it normally would because the cursing fit the characters who used it and sometimes added some humor to the dialogue. That being said, I would recommend this book to high schoolers and up.