In High Strung by Janice Peacock, Jax O’Connell has moved to Seattle after inheriting her great-aunt’s home and sets to work making amazing and intricate glass beads. She is excited to be invited to participate in a high brow bead show, but getting there, she discovers that Rosie, the woman staging the event, is the meanest person around. Putting up with Rosie, Jax and her best friend, Tessa, do their best to enjoy the opening evening. But then Jax hears the screams of Rosie’s 20-something daughter and rushes to find Rosie being strangled by her beaded necklace tied to the stair railing. Managing to get the necklace cut, Jax joins Rosie in the ambulance and is glad to learn that the woman will pull through. Everyone assumes this was an accident of Rosie’s slipping on the steps and her necklace’s getting caught in the railing. But then the next day, Jax goes to throw away trash in a dumpster and finds the body of a young bead maker. When they learn that the woman has been strangled, it leads to questions that Rosie may have been attacked intentionally. And disturbingly, the police seem to be focusing on Tessa as the criminal, so Jax gets involved in the case.
This book has a creative premise of using bead making as the backdrop of the murder, with the comparison being made between sorting through beads to find the perfect matches in the same way detectives must sort through clues. I just wish that the book had done more to play up this fact. It had so much unexploited potential. The mystery itself was fairly weak, with few clues to point the way. The characters were reasonable but not too memorable.
Mary Ann Jacobs does a good job of narrating this audiobook. I like the sound of her voice and her inflections as she performs the book.
High Strung is a book with a lot of promise that I felt was left unfulfilled. I am disappointed that it didn’t fill out the the clues better and especially that it didn’t develop the interesting plot device of comparing jewelry making with detection. I give this book three stars.
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