“On the day Nora discovered that her husband, Hugh, had gotten another woman pregnant, she made a vow: I will come back to life no matter how long it takes…
It’s taken Nora three years. With the help of her best friend, she fled New York City for a small resort town, snagged a job as the advice columnist for the local paper, and is cautiously letting a new man into her life. But when Hugh and his perfect new family move into a house nearby, Nora backslides. Coping with jealousy, humiliation, and resentment again is as hard as she feared. It’s harder still when Hugh and his wife are shot to death in their home.
If only Nora could account for the night of the murders. Unfortunately, her memories have gone as dark as her fantasies of revenge. But Nora’s not the only one with a reason to kill—and as prime suspect in the crime, she’d better be able to prove it.”
Tips for Living concerns main character, Nora, becoming embroiled as a suspect in the mystery of her ex-husband’s murder, as who else but the wronged ex-wife whose trust was betrayed, would commit the crime? This is Shafransky’s first novel, and it wasn’t a bad story. It was enjoyable: the characters were likeable, the plot was engaging and it was a very easy read.
The mystery itself was good. Who killed Hugh and Helene Walker? Possibly, the enraged ex-wife, Nora Glasser? Every possible motive, answer or culprit was plausible, and satisfying. I must say well done to Shafransky for creating a handful of potential scenarios, because honestly, any one of them would have been good.
My favourite thing (beyond Shafransky’s multiple potential outcomes) was the small town factor the novel captured. The town of Pequod delivered an atmospheric setting which contributed to my enjoyment of the plot – I found it easy to imagine the houses, the land and so on. It really did have a small town feel to it.
My main disappointment with the book was that I felt the author could have had more of a helping hand in her editing. The amount of rhetorical questions that were used throughout was quite high, which began to stick out from the page like an eyesore every time they were used. Moreover, I found issue with one part of the wrapping-up of the story, as I am unconvinced the police wouldn’t have already solved the crime by the way it was solved, without the assistance of local reporters. As far as I’m aware, the police do not sit by on idle hands. At one point, the FBI are involved as well. This isn’t just a small town murder of a small town person(s) by a small town killer. Those who have read the book will understand what I mean by that, therefore, I feel it even more apt that the police/FBI would have solved it in the manner it was eventually solved.
Overall, it’s a nice wee mystery to read if you’re looking for something that is easy and can be read with a pinch of salt. I wouldn’t describe it as a thriller, though. I read the book over a couple of days, and I rated the book 3 stars on goodreads, due to my issues with editing and the minor plot problem. I will finish with congratulating Shafransky on her first novel, as for a first novel, it is a decent story. I will look out for any of her future works, as I have no doubt they’ll be as interesting as Tips for Living was.
Tips for Living by Renee Shafransky
Published 31st July 2018
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Fiction