Review: To Helvetica and Back by Paige Sheldon

February 14, 2016 Reviews 0 Comments

Review: To Helvetica and Back by Paige SheldonTo Helvetica and Back by Paige Sheldon
Series: Dangerous Type Mystery #1
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Published by Berkley on 5 January 2016
Pages: 304
Goodreads
One StarOne StarOne Star

 

Clare runs the Rescued Word a typewriting and book repair shop with her uncle Chester. She is accosted by a leather-clad man who demands she hand over a client’s typewriter. She refuses and he runs off when the cops arrive. Shortly after, his body is found behind the store. Clare can’t resist the urge to investigate.

There is a budding romance brewing which acts as a side plot. It doesn’t really advance the mystery but it does help round Clare out as a character. I just wish that some of the dialogue between Clare and her suitor came off as a little less cheesy.

The good bits

Sheldon has put a massive effort into world building so that you feel as if you are walking down the streets of Star City. Clare points out key buildings or people as she spots them and gives their history in a fairly matter of fact manner. There is quite a bit of interesting info on how typewriters evolved and it is thankfully integrated well. This style makes the book quite rich in many ways but it does affect the pacing.

Clare is nosy and has very decided views on things as wide ranging as polygamy and how her best friend wears her hair. In short, she is a pretty good cozy protagonist as it isn’t hard to imagine her feeling she needed to investigate. She has a few missteps along the way when she tries to subtly interrogate people but I didn’t mind that as it was her first investigation. If she was still making the same mistakes a few books in, that would be a different matter.

The not so good bits

The victim is not identified for a significant amount of time which means that Clare’s investigation is a series of lucky guesses that pan out rather than methodical reasoning. I imagine that Sheldon did this to introduce an air of realism – there are an awful lot of Jane/John Doe victims out there – but it did make things a bit disjointed.

There are two mysteries to solve – who the dead guy is and why he wanted the machine. Clare doesn’t work out the motive for the latter fully and I think the novel would have improved if she had. It had the potential to drive the plot forward and link a historical crime with the contemporary one more cleanly.

A very, very minor point – it was weird that Clare referred to the creature in the novel Frankenstein as Frankenstein rather than Frankenstein’s monster. Someone who adores the classic written word as much as she is supposed to, should have got that right.

Verdict

A pleasant and quick read. I’d definitely check in with the series again.

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