Review: ‘Three Sisters’ (An Emily Castles Mystery) by Helen Smith

I love me a good mystery, so I was very excited to read Three Sisters by Helen Smith.

Three Sisters is part of Smith’s Emily Castles series, which is a little like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series; none of the stories are tied together or continue on from each other, they just feature the same heroine. This story focuses on a party that Emily attends with her neighbors and a group that seems like a bunch of carnies. Emily believes she has witnessed a murder, but no one believes her.

At only 40 pages long, Three Sisters is a novella and a super quick read. It is the perfect length for reading on the train to work or if you only have a short time to relax and don’t want to begin a whole novel.

failEven though the story is short, so many things about it were long. The sentences were long, the paragraphs were long, and the number of pages it takes to get to some action seems long. I think this is in part because, like Christie, Smith gives a lot of detail. It made the story move rather slowly and I found myself wishing for action or dialog instead of the narrator telling, telling, telling.

I also found that I did not enjoy Emily. At first, I didn’t realize that she was 26, I thought she was around 70. Like other famous female detectives such a Jessica Fletcher, Emily is a total busy body and there is a complete lack of her description, so I pictured a British version of Murder She Wrote. I like that the character is younger and is bringing a new generation of female detectives to readers, I just wish she was less of a fuddy duddy.

hellnoWhile I like the twist to the story, I found parts of the plot unbelievable (a guy finds 2 people knocked out and in a fiberglass horse head, but doesn’t question this?) and the dialog that is present is awkward. Emily talking to other characters was like one long, bad date. There seemed to be little emotion behind what was said and, once Emily starts investigating what she believes is a murder, I can’t believe anyone would put up with this amateur detective’s questions in real life.

Since mystery novels are one of my favorite genres, I was set to love this story, but Three Sisters fell flat with me. It’s a quick read, so it’s worth checking out on your own and deciding for yourself, however. If you do read it, let me know what you think!

2 stars

Genre: Mystery

About Three Sisters

Twenty-six-year-old Londoner Emily Castles has been invited to a party in the big house at the end of her street. How could she know, as she left her house that evening, that she was making an appointment with death?

This 70-page comic mystery novella will appeal to fans of M C Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith.

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About Helen Smith

Helen Smith is a novelist and playwright who lives in London. She’s the author of bestselling cult novel Alison Wonderland and other books and plays.

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