Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe

July 16, 2016
Votes: 3
GenreMystery
Audience Adult
Format Novella
Word Count 20-40k (very short)

Editing, Production, Marketing & Sales

Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars

The Rundown

As the title suggests, Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe is the first in a planned series of cozy mysteries by author Robin Merrill. The title character is an elderly woman living alone in a trailer park in rural Maine. Alone, except for all of her cats. When searching for one errant feline, Gertrude finds it inside a neighbor’s trailer along with two young children. Their mother never returned from her waitressing job at the local strip club the night before. That kicks off Gertrude’s search for the woman, discovery of a body, and subsequent sleuthing to solve the case. The story premise and initial description of Gertrude hold a lot of potential to develop into a captivating tale with a quirky, charismatic main character.

Sadly, that potential is never reached in the execution. The first book in a series has to give the reader some compelling reason to want to come back and spend more time with the protagonist and regular cast of characters. Gertrude’s eccentricities (crazy cat lady, hoarder, with a well-earned reputation for recalcitrance) could lead to a charming character despite her rough edges. But, these qualities are never adequately developed into a compelling character. The reader never gets any hint of a reason for her quirks, or any glimpse into how they might contribute to Gertrude’s motivation. Many of her idiosyncrasies, like her awkwardness and inability to “read” and adjust her behavior to situational cues, suggest either an autism spectrum disorder or a mental impairment. Either of these could lend itself to building an intriguing, multi-dimensional character. Despite the many opportunities in the story’s progression to show a softer, or compassionate, or astute side to Gertrude, we only see her unmitigated entitled and presumptuous behavior with no redeeming qualities. The result is an unlikeable, self-centered, and rude woman with no interest in or concern for others’ feelings. Not a character with whom most people would want to spend more time.

The writing and editing are quite good with few if any errors, although Merrill has a penchant for the crutch word “just” that appears with sufficient frequency to become distracting. With a cast of unlikable and poorly developed characters, it’s difficult enough to pique interest in their exploits without having other distractions.


The Recommendation

Fans of easy-reading cozy mysteries might enjoy Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe. This hits all the tropes of the genre: single, female protagonist–check; quaint small town–check; multiple suspects and red herrings–check; no graphically described violence or sex–check. But, it feels like a story written to meet that checklist, and nothing more. Those looking for complex or appealing characters, a challenging puzzle to solve, excitement or intrigue, may find the pace plodding and the characters more irritating than interesting.


The Rating Reviewer Rating: 3 Stars

3 Stars (out of 5): Pretty good. Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Prose
Cons: Character Developement, Predictable

The Reviewer

Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe

Gertrude has been called a lot of things: a hoarder, an odd duck, and a crazy cat lady—but she’s never been called a gumshoe. Until now. When her neighbor goes missing, she can’t help but get involved, no matter how many people ask her not to.

Visit Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe‘s website.

Author’s Summary

Gertrude has been called a lot of things: a hoarder, an odd duck, and a crazy cat lady—but she’s never been called a gumshoe. Until now. When her neighbor goes missing, she can’t help but get involved, no matter how many people ask her not to.

Short Description

Gertrude has been called a lot of things: a hoarder, an odd duck, and a crazy cat lady—but she’s never been called a gumshoe. Until now. When her neighbor goes missing, she can’t help but get involved, no matter how many people ask her not to.

Catchphrase

Cozy starring an eccentric walker-wielding woman.

Additional Links

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Awards and Endorsements

There are currently no awards or endorsements listed for this novel.

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