In Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs by G.M. Dobbs, septuagenarian Mary Smith, known to all as Granny Smith, gets involved in protesting a development in her small Welsh town. A fellow protester, Mansel, believes that the pond where the development is scheduled to take place contains endangered lesser crested frogs, so he calls in an expert, who determines that the frogs are common frogs and not the endangered ones. Upon learning this fact, Granny goes to the pond to remove the flyers about the frogs, only to discover the body of Carol Hamish, a fellow protester, floating dead with her eyes open in the pond. Granny finds the prospect of getting involved in another murder case stimulating and determines to get to the bottom of the case.
I wasn’t as impressed by this book as by the previous book, though it still was a lot of fun. The mystery plot itself does not take the twists and turns of the prior book. Instead, it fills much of its plot with Granny’s son’s announcement that he is gay and getting married. I found it a fresh touch to have a gay marriage planned, as I have previously noted that it is rare in cozy mysteries to have gay characters, but it filled too much of the book and began to feel as if the author was trying to prove his support of the institution rather than just use it as a plot point.
I was disappointed in the language used in this book. It dropped the F- bomb a number of times and described naked people at least twice. While we don’t see any actual sex scenes, the material is graphic enough that combined with the language, I do not think this book should be classified as a cozy mystery, as the first book clearly is. That made me unhappy.
The characters in Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs were its redemption. Granny comes alive in a way that I really love her. Her memories of her “wild child” days, compared with the person she has become, add humor to the book. Her use of a pipe, which we usually associate with men, also added to her interest as a woman who will do her own thing. The other character who especially made me smile was Special Constable David Davies, known to his friends as “Die Two Times.” Not a regular member of the police but desperately trying to convince them that they need him, “Two Times” assists Granny in her snooping to serve as a mole for the police department. One memorable scene takes place when someone hits the police car he is driving to take Granny home, and Two Times becomes incapacitated from driving. So Granny, who has had get license revoked for too many violations, gets behind the wheel and takes him on a high speed chase that ends with her ramming the other vehicle a couple times.
I really enjoyed the performance of Fiona Thraille in this book. She adds a lot of flavor and joy to the story and performs excellent voices for each of the characters, especially that of Granny. Her expressions and timing make the book effective as well.
In sum, I was not as happy with Granny and the Deadly Frogs as I expected to be. I did highly enjoy being reunited with Granny and all her cohorts. But I was disappointed in the agenda for gsy marriage that the book seemed to push and especially in the depictions of naked people. The book started with great promise in dealing with the issue of the frogs, but they got dropped on the side somewhere. If the author had stuck with that plot element, I think it would have been a much better book. I thus give this book three stars.
Disclaimer: I received this audiobook for free through Audiobook BOOM, but that had no influence on the content of my review.
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