Reviewer: Cheryl Colwell
This sweet cozy was filled with light, clever banter between long-time friends, Margaret and Louis. On vacation, they encounter a murder and their curiosity overcomes caution as they follow clues that might reveal the murderer. In the process, we meet delightful, well-developed supportive characters who flavor the story with the richness of the Great Lakes setting. I was surprised at how abruptly the murder was solved, but overall, I liked the story and wanted to keep reading. Good job, Marianne Jones.
Reviewer: Gail Davis
I thoroughly enjoyed The Serenity Stone Murder by Marianne Jones. The picture on the cover was vibrant and reminiscent of watercolors and was peaceful. The story moved along at a good pace. Given that the word “serenity” is used in the title, I would love to say the book moved at a leisurely pace, but then some people would think the pace was slow. I say it was leisurely because the main characters are artists and the plot is unwoven for the reader in a way that makes you feel you are in the Canadian north where the story is set.
From the moment you begin reading, you relish the description of the places the artists live and travel. Monochrome winters and rainbow springs strike more than one of my senses. This setting makes me want to visit the more remote parts of Canada.
The main characters, two ladies in their early 60s, are quirky and traditional. One is a widowed painter and the other an unmarried photographer who practice their art to fulfill their heart’s desire, not out of necessity for income. Their curiosity is peaked easily and they are more easily inclined to riddle out the solution to their query as we watch happen when they come across a police investigating a murder in a casino parking lot that abuts an Anglican church where they are attending an arts weekend. Who wouldn’t want to know more about this situation? So they crash the funeral, follow curious people, bump into potential villains, and meet an idolized painter who turns out to be as ordinary as they are.
The plot of this book is intriguing and keeps you guessing as to what next these two ladies can get into. You won’t want to put it down until you turn the last page. Then you will want to find the next book that chronicles the next week of the ladies’ lives. I dare you not to pick up this book and read it, and then I dare you to put it down before you’ve read it in its entirety. It is a page-turning, curiosity-inspiring, fun-filled book. Ms. Jones must write a sequel to The Serenity Stone Murder. I want to know more. I give this book five stars!
Reviewer: Theresa Goldrick
What a lot of fun this book was to read!!! Do you have a good friend who you can travel with and no matter what, you seem to find trouble(or it finds you)? This is the story of 2 friends, Margaret and Louise, who travel from their home to Thunder Bay to attend a retreat. While there they get involved in the murder of a man who owns the local casino and has ties to the mob. Sit back and enjoy the ride as the author, Marianne Jones, tells the story of two small town women let loose in the big city. Between a spoiled dog who isn’t allowed into the ritzy motel they have booked to the possibility of romance for one of the friends this book doesn’t disappoint.
Reviewer: Mary Hosmar
I can imagine reading Marianne Jones’ Serenity Stone Murder on a cold, windy night, bundled up in a robe before a crackling fire. Not that these conditions are in any way part of this murder-mystery. Far from it. As a matter of fact, the story takes place during a warm August in Thunder Bay.
Two middle-aged friends, one a widow, the other a retired, never-been-married school teacher set out to take part in a spirit/tranquility retreat. What they find is anything but. The murder of a notorious town businessman of whom they had never heard before and with rumoured ties to the mob is all they need to begin speculating about who-dun-it.
Marianne Jones writes a light-hearted mystery with lots of humorous adventures along the way. Although there were a couple of spots which left me wondering whether or not I had missed something in the reading, and the fact that the end comes somewhat abruptly, this is an enjoyable, easy read with lots of laughs along the way. Hence the cold, windy night in front of a crackling fire.
Reviewer: Jessica Sichel
“The Serenity Stone Murder” tells the story of two women, a dog, and their adventures in and around the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. These adventures include everything from experiencing local cuisine and the handling of interpersonal relationships to, of course, becoming involved in solving a murder.
Right from the start, the author shocks the reader with a style not usually found in mainline Christian fiction. As the story unfolds, it becomes evident that the feistiness of the author is reflected in her main characters. While this can be very refreshing – a nice break to what some might see as the monotony of stories with ‘flawed yet perfect’ characters – the author toes and, at times, crosses a fine line. Writers of Christian fiction may not be traditional theologians, but it is important that the ideas and characters they present show what it means to essentially be “after God’s own heart” – whether this be represented by the main character or another important figure in the story.
For example, main character Margaret Bain occasionally ‘fibs.’ It would be untrue to say that Christians do not fib, nor would it be appropriate to say a person who fibs cannot be after God’s own heart. However, the author says the following about Margaret:
She felt a slight twinge of guilt over making up the story about being a reporter. On the other hand, her deception had made her feel a wee bit like a TV detective. Going over to the dark side, just a bit, was beginning to be fun.
Lying is one of those behaviors that chips away at the goal of Christians to be more like Christ. In this case, the author allows her main character to enjoy falsehood and go on to act similarly later in the book, all without serious contrition or reprimand. This is one example of where the line is crossed.
On the other hand, the author does an excellent job of looking honestly at the plights of inter-congregational dissension that show up so often in churches. Instead of making the church look perfect and the rest of the world look dark and unholy, the author finds what might be described as ‘redeeming qualities’ in the world and shows reality in the relationships of followers of the faith.
Stylistically and plot-wise, “The Serenity Stone Murder” could be improved with consistency. At certain points in the story, it is easy to become confused about the personality of a character, as the character acts or thinks one way in one situation and a very different way in another. Moreover, the characters seem to be pursuing many different activities and goals, such as Margaret heading out on a solo hunt for an artist, going to a performance, shopping at the mall, and so forth. In contrast, the author slows down a bit by spending a great deal of time describing things or activities such as a meal or a night’s sleep, causing a hurry-up-and-wait feel in the story. Making things more simple and consistent would help the story’s flow.
Unfortunately, the editing for the book leaves much to be desired. Typos and grammatical errors distract from the story itself, as does the over-use of adjectives. A solid few-times-over with a good proofreader would be a big help.
Overall, the author has some good ‘stuff’ going on in “The Serenity Stone Murder,” but also has some tragic flaws. I would encourage the author to continue honing her craft, most importantly with regard to the expression of the Christian faith.