#BookReview: Searching for Irene by Marlene Bateman

Christian Historical
Historical Mystery

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Anna Coughlin is a modern 1920s woman armed with a college education and a partiality for numbers. Now, within the walls of a fantastic castle-like mansion in the hills of Virginia, her skill will be tested as never before. Hired to serve as financial advisor to wealthy Lawrence Richardson, Anna finds the welcome she receives anything but warm. Lawrence’s handsome but antagonistic son Tyler wants nothing more than to send her packing. The household staff isn’t much better, but who can blame them, considering the way Lawrence’s last advisor, Irene, disappeared...

Convinced that one of the enigmatic members of the household had something to do with Irene’s disappearance, Anna doesn’t dare trust anyone—not even temperamental Tyler Richardson, who, despite her best intentions, is beginning to steal her heart. A series of frightening incidents ensnare Anna in a maze of intrigue, putting her life in peril. But even as Anna begins uncovering the secrets hidden within the mansion’s stone walls, she harbors a secret of her own. Now, the only question that remains is whether she will disappear as mysteriously as Irene...

Marlene Bateman’s Searching for Irene caught my eye a while back, but the reality of the novel failed to satisfy my tastes and I have to admit I’d have great difficulty recommending it forward.

I hate sounding so blasé, but I have this crazy idea that a whodunit should leave the audience wondering ‘who done it?’ for at least some portion of the narrative. The reader shouldn’t be able to peg the culprit the moment the character enters the story and they shouldn’t catch themselves yawning as the cast slowly pieces things together.

I kept reading in hope that Bateman would throw me a curveball or at least create a motive or twist I didn’t anticipate, but neither materialized and I finished the novel feeling cheated of the time I spent with it. The story wasn’t bad, but it never took off.

The novel is light on historic detail and the characterizations lack the depth and complexity I crave. The story isn’t bad, but it’s more of a beach read than it is a suspenseful page-turner.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 23, 2017

His words kindles a fire that glinted in Anna's eyes. How dare he make such an assumption? It was difficult to hang on to her temper, but there was too much at stake to let his boorishness sidetrack her.