Portrait of a Murder

A Gabriella Alegré Mystery, Vol. 2

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
172 Pages
Reviewed on 09/23/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

Portrait of a Murderer by Bob Seay is a cozy murder mystery set in Boulder, Colorado. Gabriella Alegré is a streetside painter who does well enough selling her portraits to support her share of the bills she shares with her friend Amara. After a wealthy benefactor, Avyanna Menken, commissions her to paint a family portrait with a hefty price tag, Gabriella and Amara visit Menken’s mansion but find her dead soon after they arrive. The death is considered a natural occurrence, as Menken had health issues, but some of her family isn’t convinced. Gabriella is employed by one of Menken’s daughters to complete Menken’s requested portrait, and after Gabriella notices potential motives for homicide in some of the family members, she decides to investigate as she paints the portrait.

It was clear that a book preceded this one, as the main character frequently thought about a murder she had solved, but Bob Seay didn’t slow down the story by overexplaining the first book in the series. The story was medium-paced and moved along well, while explaining enough about the pivotal characters to form an attachment to them. Information about painting and techniques was explained, giving more depth to Gabriella's character. As the mystery deepened, it was clear how Gabriella could see more details in the world around her, and her observations seemed credible. I encourage readers who enjoy cozy mysteries with female sleuths to flip through the pages of this entertaining novel.

Alma Boucher

An elegant woman named Avyanna Menken stops by Gabriella Alegré’s cart and asks her to draw a portrait of her. Gabriella’s morning was interrupted but Avyanna was impressed with the portrait. Gabriella caught Avyanna’s elbow and helped her to sit down when she lost her balance and almost fell over. Avyanna had five daughters and asked Gabriella to paint a family portrait in oils. Gabriella agrees, and they arrange for her to take her friend Amara to dinner so that Gabriella can meet everyone. At Menken’s residence, Gabriella asks to use the bathroom and finds Avyanna on the floor. Gabriella investigates Avyanna’s death in Portrait of a Murder: A Gabriella Alegré Mystery by Bob Seay.

Portrait of a Murder: A Gabriella Alegré Mystery by Bob Seay is a short read but is packed full of action. There was so much happening that I could not put it down, not even for a minute. I could not turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen next. It kept my attention from the start. The plot is exciting and with so many twists and turns, there was never a dull moment. The characters were strong and well-developed. Every character’s background was described in detail. I could relate to them in that they could have been any of my friends. Bob Seay is a talented writer and the story had all the components that are needed to be a success.

Pikasho Deka

Portrait of a Murder is the second volume of the Gabriella Alegré Mystery series by Bob Seay. After helping solve the murder of a fellow busker, Gabriella Alegré is back to drawing caricatures and portraits on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado. While her boyfriend Noah is imploring her to move in with him, her landlord has basically put out an eviction notice. But her fortunes may have at last changed for the better when she is approached by Avyanna Menkin, one of the wealthiest women in Boulder, who asks her to draw a family portrait while her five daughters are in town. However, things take a turn for the worse when Avyanna dies under suspicious circumstances. Committed to drawing the family portrait, Gabriella must now also keep an eye on a potential killer. But doing so may put her own life at risk.

Portrait of a Murder is yet another scintillating addition to the Gabriella Alegré Mystery series. Filled with catchy dialogue, vibrant characters, and a captivating plot with timely reveals that will keep your eyes glued to the pages, Bob Seay's masterful narrative doesn't leave room for a single ounce of fat. The plot is tightly paced, with just the right number of expository scenes to provide backstories of some secondary yet important characters. Gabriella and Amara's friendship continues to be one of my favorite things about this series, and their banter and quick back and forth in this installment do not disappoint. Recommended to readers who love whodunnit murder mysteries.

Jennifer Ibiam

Gabriella Alegré was a portrait and caricature artist who struggled to make a living, but that wasn’t all. She was also an amateur sleuth with a penchant for finding dead bodies and solving murders. Gabriella had moved to Boulder, where she worked as an artist on Pearl Street, scraping pennies together. The wealthy Avyanna Menken approached Gabriella to paint a family portrait, which was a financial breakthrough for the artist. However, she first had to visit Avyanna’s home to meet her family. Things went south when Gabriella found Avyanna dead at home. Her life was also on the line. Who killed Avyanna? Gabriella must expose the murderer before she is silenced in Portrait of a Murder: A Gabriella Alegré Mystery, Vol. 2 by Bob Seay.

Portrait of a Murder by Bob Seay was fun to read, concise, and filled with laughter, drama, and many lessons. I loved the themes, brilliant storyline, strong plot, and dominant characters. For a short book, the characters were well developed, the story had depth, and the plot twists were well executed. The enemy lives within, and they hide in plain sight. I never suspected who the murderer was because Destiny, Jerica, Alyssa, Valena, Theresa, and Carson all had motives. They all appeared to be guilty as well. Greed blurs the lines of familial loyalty and turns even saints into monsters. I loved the dialog, transitions, and suspense. Bob is a talented writer, and I cannot wait for Gabriella’s future discoveries. Thank you, Bob, for a beautiful book.