Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
Sultry is a solid, suspenseful murder mystery novel full of red-herrings, twists, and turns! Just when you think you have this case all figured out, the author hits you with a surprise. In this whodunit mystery, there are culprits and potential culprits—suspects—around ever corner and around every nook and cranny.
This novel came to us after reading perhaps 3-4 other murder mystery novels this season, all of them unique and interesting in their own way. That gave us some perspective and a measuring stick with which to judge this. There are two ways we're choosing to look at this book.
First, this book is what we'd describe as “solid.” It does its job. It does what the reader probably purchased it for. It was interesting and entertaining at times, and the central mystery is truly compelling. It is also well-written and formatted.
On another hand, there was just a strange feeling we had about this book that is difficult to describe. Let's just tell you our experiences. One of us was initially very interested, then got bored and put it down for three days before finally finishing it. One of us was also quite interested, then got lost, saying that maybe there was a twist or turn too many. They started and stopped, then started reading the book again over the course of a week. That's actually a very long time for one of us to read a novel, especially of this length and this genre. It felt like it was going to wrap up several times, but it didn't. It seemed to plod along through the midway point and into the conclusion. It felt too long. That doesn't mean it was long, but it felt long. Some of us were tired and/or physically and mentally exhausted from reading it.
But look, here's the cold, hard truth about all that: this is a GOOD BOOK and we might just be jaded of the subject matter. Like we said, this is like the fourth one we've read in like three months.
Let's give this good novel a fair shot and go over some of the plot.
This novel follows Dillyn Fitzgerald, the granddaughter of a murdered man, Old Grand, as she takes it upon herself to catch the culprit(s) behind his murder. It is a cold case that the police seem to be dragging their feet on, offering little more than a hollow assurance that they are making daily efforts, daily efforts which end up equating to the length of a TV sitcom (30 minutes a day). While we wouldn't consider Dillyn one of the elite characters we've seen this season, she is definitely admirable as a character. If you look at her as an actual human being, she is brave, intelligent, and incredibly committed to her noble cause. She also has a critical/analytical eye and mind. You can't help but root and cheer for her. She is also a good person with strong ethics, and that clearly shows.
Speaking of characters, the author does a good job at setting up multiple different suspects. There are so many character who could be involved in the murder conspiracy. She does this, for better or for worse, by making many of the other characters other than Dillyn seem sketchy if not despicable. Let's look at some of them. There is an enigmatic titular character, Sultry, the source of much of the mystery in the novel. She is the mysterious woman with whom Papa Grand (Dillyn's dad) had an affair, cheating on Dillyn's mother. This also creates one of the biggest conflicts in the story.
Speaking of Papa Grand, Dillyn's dad is one of the biggest suspects and shadiest characters in this book. Clearly he is hiding and/or lying about something. Every time it seems like Dillyn is taking the initiative, her father will give her an attitude or express disapproval. What's a little interesting but also sometimes weird is that, despite being shady as all heck, he does express affection to Dillyn and seem to care about her. You can also sense the affection that Dillyn has for her dad as she constantly calls him “Daddy” despite her being a full-grown, mature adult. That's something that jumped out to us constantly as strange, but ok.
There is also Detective Shannon, the police officer in charge of investigating the murder who has been dragging his feet for years. Very few positive words are spoken about Officer Shannon, which shines the light of suspicion on him. People even seem afraid of him and talk about him in hush tones as if he might seek retribution if they step over his toes. There are times when Shannon even seems to stand against Dillyn's efforts to solve the case, further casting suspicion on him.
But the character we probably wanted to complain about the most is Bellamy Adkins (“Bell”), Dillyn's boyfriend and eventual fiance. He is such an insufferable jerk for much of this book. He just ambushes Dillyn with his marriage proposal, is almost completely insensitive to her desire to settle things with the investigation first, and continues to plow through any and all of her wedding plans—insisting on his own way. And what makes this especially annoying is that Dillyn thinks the world of this jerk, so does her and just about everyone else. While everyone is continuously praising this guy, we as readers just can't stand him. For that reason, he is also suspicious in this book.
So, check it out on Amazon if you're into the murder mystery genre. It could be worth it!