First-time author Morden will be a real treat for amateur sleuth fans. Launching her mystery from familiar territory--her own background as a pastor's wife--she creates realistic, well-developed characters, from the insufferable Abigail Thornbush (good, prickly name for the old bat!) to Jamie's former classmate Rachel, whose troubled past still haunts her, to Jamie herself, a woman who dearly loves her husband, her children and her life but has begun to feel she has no identity of her own. That changes with the death of another former classmate, who leaves her his estate--and makes her the prime suspect in his murder. I was skeptical at first of the idea of a group of old high school friends taking on the search for his killer--it seemed too convenient that the former classmates had once had a "mystery club"--but Morden pulls it off beautifully. She writes in a straightforward, simple style that makes her novel an easy read, relying on sharp dialogue and a gift for just enough details in sight, sound and smell to give her readers a you-are-there feeling. Strongly recommended.
I'll confess up front: this is not the kind of book I normally read. I bought it because I became a James Gunn fan after seeing Guardians of the Galaxy. I didn't even know he'd written a novel until he mentioned it on his Facebook page. This book is very different from Guardians, but I ended up reading it in one sitting. To call it quirky is a monumental understatement. It's well written (not surprising), with a cast of odd but believable characters (again, not surprising) the reader can root for even at their lowest points. I did find find myself wondering, since the character and the author have the same name and background, how much of the story is fiction and how much is fact.
My only complaint is directed at the publisher, not the author. A publisher, even a small one, should be able to properly format their ebooks. The formatting of The Toy Collector is abysmal.