Larkin Day is not having a great time. At 35, with her career at a standstill, she’s just moved back in with her mother, which means living in a small town in Iowa that, to her, might as well be Nowheresville. Her reluctant attempt to get involved ultimately leads to joining the community choir, which seems innocuous enough. Then the choir’s accompanist is found dead at a rehearsal, and Larkin has the misfortune of finding his body. The more Larkin learns about the deceased accompanist, the more she finds herself wondering if there was foul play involved. As she begins to explore the truth more deeply, her background in theater proves to be an incredibly useful asset. But it’s when she befriends fellow choir member Anni that this makeshift investigation really takes off. The two of them make a great team, both as amateur detectives and as friends, as they dig into secrets that their community has kept hidden for years.
Author Nicole Dieker has conjured a very realistic world and cast of characters with ODE TO MURDER, and from the first page, it is funny, poignant, and curious. Larkin’s narration is pithy, punchy, and engaging; as she settles into this new environment and tries to make sense of her life, her growth is palpable and relatable. All of the people she meets are well-rounded and unique, and they change her life so subtly and naturally that it’s easy to appreciate by the story’s conclusion. Dieker’s writing style is equally sharp and fluid, and it’s clear she knows what she’s doing in terms of story. Beyond this, though, what makes ODE TO MURDER stand out is Dieker’s character-centric approach. This is a very human mystery story, one that sees all of the light and shadow in people’s natures while still keeping everything engaging and buoyant. While the exploration of the case is intriguing in its own right, it’s the conclusions that Larkin reaches about herself and the connections she builds along the way that really bring the story home to a satisfying place. ODE TO MURDER is refreshing, and definitely recommended for fans of a good mystery. But it’s also a great read for anyone who, like Larkin, is searching for a new story that can reach them in surprising, unexpected ways.
With equal doses of humor and heart, Nicole Dieker’s ODE TO MURDER gives readers a fascinating and fun journey through a small-town murder mystery that introduces amateur detective Larkin Day.
~Jennifer Weatherly for IndieReader