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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Why Me? Chimeras, Conundrums and Dead Goldfish by Charlotte Stuart has an unusual title and an equally unusual and interesting murder/mystery to go along with it. Bryn, an attractive, young, single, successful consultant from Seattle is enjoying her dream holiday of hiking the highland trails of Scotland (alone, unfortunately, as her best friend Sophie pulled out at the last minute over a man, no less). The hiking is not going well, beset by bad weather and attacking midges that seem to single Bryn out for special treatment. She is feeling pretty miserable when she spots what looks like a body at the bottom of a ravine. After climbing down to check it out, she realizes the man is dead. Feeling spooked, she heads back to the car park and calls Mountain Rescue for help. When they arrive back at the spot Bryn takes them to, the body has disappeared and she knows nobody in the rescue team actually believes that she saw it or if she did, the man clearly wasn’t dead. When Bryn returns home to her sailboat (that she lives on) in Seattle, the mystery of the “dead” scientist - who coincidentally also comes from Seattle - just won’t leave her alone. She finds herself caught up in a life and death struggle revolving around the cutting-edge research of gene manipulation and attempts to grow human organs.
The unusual title was certainly what attracted me to the book in the first place. I’m glad it did, as Charlotte Stuart has presented an exceptionally good and readable murder/mystery with enough twists to keep a reader interested. The characters are realistic and I especially was drawn to Logan, Bryn’s best male friend who was always there for her and always prepared to put himself in danger for his best friend. Of course, it was the great big cat with the famous name Macavity that stole the show but the full character list all had something worthwhile to add to the narrative. The plot twisted and turned significantly throughout the story which allowed the reader to make his/her own judgments about who may be the guilty perpetrator of the crime and that’s always the sign of a good murder/mystery author. This is not an author I’ve come across before but this book was so eminently readable with a coherent, flowing style that she is someone I will definitely be watching out for in the future. I suspect Stuart has an excellent “amateur sleuth” character here that she could build an entire series around. I can highly recommend Why Me? Chimeras, Conundrums and Dead Goldfish for those of us who like easy to read, straightforward murder/mystery. This is a very relaxing read.