In J. Ivanel Johnson’s Just a Stale Mate, a tragic death from a railway trestle sets the stage for a captivating and intricate investigation. While initially reported as a fall, the incident quickly evolves into a complex murder mystery that entangles a cast of characters in southwestern Ontario. Enter P.J. Whistler, a sprightly and witty elderly woman who arrives in town for a casual visit with her godson and his family. Yet, fate has other plans for her, and she soon finds herself embroiled in a series of murders.
As the plot thickens, P.J. teams up with Inspector Phillip Steele and his mother to unravel the mystery. Johnson masterfully weaves together clues, red herrings, and puzzles that keep readers on the edge of their seats. The inclusion of references to Charles Dickens and anagrams adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story. One of the most fascinating characters in the book is P.J. herself. Her adventurous spirit, love for travel, and great sense of humor make her relatable and enjoyable to follow. Despite a large cast of characters, the author keeps the mystery alive by leaving readers guessing who the culprit might be. Johnson’s attention to detail is evident throughout the book, from the locations to the characters’ mannerisms, creating an authentic sense of realism that immerses the reader in the story. The vivid details make readers feel like they are a detective and everyone is a suspect.
Overall, Just a Stale Mate is a polished and sharply written novel that showcases Johnson’s skill in crafting a compelling murder mystery. This book is highly recommended for those searching for an immersive mystery mixed with action and a sprinkle of romance. Readers will be drawn into the story and find themselves fully engaged until the last page.
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