Review: Fatality in F Hits All the Right Notes

51grbi2buqjlFatality in F is the fourth book in Alexia Gordon’s Gethsemane Brown. The world-class musician and amateur sleuth teaches music at an all boys school in a small village in Ireland, with the closest urban center being Cork. She has a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time-or is that the wrong place at the right time?-and finding herself in the middle of murder and mayhem.

Now, straight off, I’m not someone who reads a lot of amateur sleuth books. They (no pun intended!) have to strike the right chord with me. However, I’ve been very focused on expanding my reading and try to approach every book with an open mind.

I suppose it’s also worth noting that I used to live in Ballincollig, which is on the outskirts of Cork, not far from Blarney Castle, so I have a limited scope of reference for Ireland, along with an Irish Catholic grandmother and a grandfather who was an Orangeman. Ireland has a special place in my heart, and this setting gave me a double dose of fear starting this book. Would it deliver?

Yes. And then, when Gethsemane’s ghost roommate, Eamon, shows up, my response to the question was Hell yes.

Gethsemane has a keen mind, as well as an open mind. One of the things that makes her an ideal amateur sleuth is that she doesn’t outright dismiss possibilities, even when she sounds like she’s skeptical. I absolutely loved the banter between her and Eamon and the comic touch that brings. Since I read an arc I’m technically not supposed to quote from it, but Eamon had a laugh-out-loud-funny line in there that was so good I had to share it with my husband, who (even out of context without reading the book) could appreciate the sentiment.

Gordon’s strengths come through in developing strong, likable characters that you want to spend time with. She’s also built some great relationship dynamics among her group of teachers and garda.

New readers shouldn’t be deterred; Gordon gives you enough to ground yourself in past events and relationship dynamics to be able to dig right in and keep you from feeling lost. I’m not one who really worries about these things, so it might have been a bit more than I needed, but I’m an anomaly as a reader that way so that should not be taken as a criticism at all. I know how important it is to readers to not feel like they’re missing something because of prior books they haven’t read.

There’s a whole lot to love in this book. The narrative flows steadily, with plenty of revelations along the way that shape the investigation and keep you guessing. Believable characters fill the pages, and these are people you want to spend time with. They aren’t all perfect and polished and simple, but their quirks are part of what make them so endearing.

I thought I knew who the murderer was at 68%, and I was wrong.

If you like amateur sleuth stories with some woo woo, you will love this book and shouldn’t hesitate to dive right in. Or better, still, pick up Murder in G Minor, Death in D Minor and Killing in C Sharp along with Fatality in F and indulge yourself with a new favorite author who I expect will be delighting readers for years to come.

And even if amateur sleuth stories aren’t usually your thing, there’s a lot of heart here. This was a fun read that I did not want to put down and I was eager to get back to the story and the new friends Gordon breathed life into so effectively. And some serious kudos to Gordon for the research she must have done into illnesses, pharmaceuticals, botany … The details she weaves in infuse the story with authenticity while establishing motive.