Review: Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston (cozy mystery)

Review: Lost Under a Ladder by Linda O. Johnston (cozy mystery)Author: Linda O. Johnston
Title: Lost Under a Ladder
Series: Superstition Mystery #1
Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide
Pages: 336
Release Date: October 1st 2014
Genres: Mystery & Thriller

Is it Luck? Or is it Destiny? Rory Chasen never thought superstitions were real—until her beloved fiancé is killed after walking under a ladder. To find closure and the truth about superstitions, Rory takes her dog Pluckie to a town called Destiny, where superstitious beliefs are a way of life.  Rory’s visit to Destiny takes an unexpected turn when Pluckie saves Martha, the owner of the Lucky Dog Boutique. While Martha recovers, Rory reluctantly agrees to manage the pet shop for her. But when Martha becomes the prime suspect in the local bookshop owner’s murder, Rory can’t believe that the sweet old woman would do it. Convinced the real killer is still roaming Destiny’s streets, Rory resolves to crack the case before Martha’s luck runs out.

Praise: "Doggone cute."—LIBRARY JOURNAL
Format: Paperback
Also by this author: Knock on Wood
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Lost Under Ladder is the first book in the Superstition Mystery series by Linda O. Johnston. I really liked the concept of a town that revolved around superstitions. My problem with this story is that it takes too long to get to the problem. It doesn’t become a murder mystery until page 86. The previous pages were mostly set-up and I was impatient to see what the story’s main goal was. I also didn’t like how the main character, Rori, claims she is a skeptic but she pretty much buys into all the superstitions.

I have some other complaints. One is that Rori doesn’t actually figure out the mystery. The villain has to reveal everything to her. Also, she has to be rescued, which was a big no-no in my opinion. She might have won on her own, but she wasn’t given a chance. Justin came in and rescued her during the final confrontation.

I don’t know what kept me reading this book. I guess it was because I was hoping Rori would realize that superstitions weren’t real, so she could accept that her fiance’s death was just an accident and she could move on with her life. I was disappointed on this point as well. However, even though I didn’t agree with the way she dealt with the superstitions, I did like her determination in figuring out the mystery so she could help her new friend. Her character was well-developed, just not in the ways I would have liked on certain points, which is no fault of the author.

The idea behind the story was great. The execution was not. It could have been so much better. The writing was good. The problem was just with how things unfolded. Despite my complaints, I didn’t hate the book. I plan to read the next book in this series. Perhaps Rori will have more personal growth in the next one. I also hope the next book moves along faster than this one did. I am going to give Lost Under Ladder four stars, mainly for the concept, prose, and characterization. If I were rating on plot development alone, the score would be much lower.

About Linda O. Johnston

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the Year. Since then, Linda has had more short stories and novellas published, plus, by the end of 2015, she will have had forty-one novels published, including mysteries and romance.

Linda currently writes two cozy mystery series for Midnight Ink, the Superstition Mysteries and the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, both featuring dogs. She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, which was a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series. And yes, they involved dogs, too.

Linda additionally writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne including the Alpha Force miniseries about a covert military unit of shapeshifters–and all the werewolves also have cover dogs. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, including a miniseries about a non-witness protection program.

Linda, a currently inactive transactional attorney, now writes fiction full-time. She is a member of the Los Angeles chapters of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America, including the Los Angeles and Orange County chapters, as well as International Thriller Writers.

(bio from Goodreads)

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