Monday, 24 June 2013

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day is the first crime book by renowned fantasy author Tansy Rayner Roberts. Since I love her fantasy books, I was expecting to enjoy A Trifle Dead. What I didn't particularly expect was to read it in a single evening (including staying up in bed until it was over). And I don't even like food.
Tabitha Darling has always had a dab hand for pastry and a knack for getting into trouble. Which was fine when she was a tearaway teen, but not so useful now she’s trying to run a hipster urban café, invent the perfect trendy dessert, and stop feeding the many (oh so unfashionable) policemen in her life.

When a dead muso is found in the flat upstairs, Tabitha does her best (honestly) not to interfere with the investigation, despite the cute Scottish blogger who keeps angling for her help. Her superpower is gossip, not solving murder mysteries, and those are totally not the same thing, right?

But as that strange death turns into a string of random crimes across the city of Hobart, Tabitha can’t shake the unsettling feeling that maybe, for once, it really is ALL ABOUT HER.

And maybe she’s figured out the deadly truth a trifle late…
Needless to say, I really loved A Trifle Dead. Tabitha is plucky and keeps sticking her nose into police business. It's just as well that she knows just about all of the police force, thanks to her father being the former superintendent, and can ply them with delicious café food.

I really loved the picture the author painted of Hobart. I've only visited Hobart once, but I had no difficulty imagining the various settings. It also made me want to move to visit Hobart again. The setting also extended to numerous pop-culture references, from obscure super heroes to Tumblr and Twitter. They made me smile many times. It's also this aspect of geek culture that I think makes this crime novel particularly accessible to a lot of spec fic fans (compared with some other miscellaneous crime novel). It also makes it a very "now" book, but I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

There's a bit of a love triangle in A Trifle Dead but unlike in many other books (admittedly many of which are YA, but still), Tabitha does not spend very much time angsting about boys, or even thinking that much about them while more important things are happening. And the love triangle wasn't used to generate tension — that's what the plot was for. I was left with the overwhelming sense that this is how actual adults people might behave. This is how you love triangle.

On the topic of the crime aspect, I didn't guess whodunnit before it was revealed, although once it was, all the hints from earlier fit nicely into place. Which is mostly what I want out of a mystery. (It's no fun if you work it out far earlier than the characters and then have to heckle the page over their slowness.)

A Trifle Dead is a delightful read. I enjoyed it immensely and could not put it down. I highly recommend it to pretty much everyone. I'm sure crime fans will enjoy it if the blurb appeals, but because of the pop culture references I suspect it will have higher appeal to spec fic fans than other crime novels. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

5 / 5 stars

First published: March 2013, Deadlines (Twelfth Planet Press)
Series: Café la Femme book 1 of ?
Format read: PAPER ZOMG
Source: Purchased at Continuum!
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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