ARC Review: A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall

Hey Everyone,

Happy Friday and hello bank holiday weekend. I have had the most intense day at work today, I think I moved away from my desk for a grand total of about 25mins from the moment I logged on in the morning. As soon as 5pm hit, I had my laptop slammed shut and I was ready to chill out.

Book πŸ“–

Thank you to @avonbooksuk for this advanced copy of A Pen Dipped in Poison by @jm_hall_writer in return for an honest review. A Pen Dipped in Poison was published on 30th March 2023 and you can get a copy here.

Description πŸ”–

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

General Thoughts πŸ€”

I was looking forward to picking up with these characters again after reading the first book in this series last year (review here). Unfortunately, I just wasn’t as gripped and enchanted by the story and the characters this time around and I just couldn’t settle in to the book. This is the second book in a row now that has made me feel this way, so this could be very much be a “it’s not you it’s me” kind of situation, but that doesn’t take away the fact that this book just didn’t ding my dong.

Characters πŸ‘«πŸ‘­πŸ‘¬

I fell in love with these characters the first time around and really warmed to them. I liked all of the women and admired them for different reasons, however I felt like I didn’t get to hear much of their personal lives in this book and therefore I struggled to re-connect with them. What I don’t think helped was that the crime the ladies were investigating wasn’t very thrilling or exciting to me, so I didn’t care enough about what they were going through trying to find out who was writing the poison pen letters.

Writing Style ✍️

I will make a point of noting that I think the fact that this author has a background of being a teacher helped to make the setting and feeling of the book feel authentic. The detail included about the running of a school and all the little mentions of various different learning techniques (Pineapple Maths springs to mind) took me back and did transport me to Primary School Days.

However, I think the mystery was lacking somewhat and therefore I just couldn’t engage as much as I wanted to. There was a lot of time that seemed to pass before the story started to unravel and gain some traction.

Conclusion & Scoring πŸŽ–

I’m so sad that this book and I didn’t have a great time together. I loved the first book in this series, especially spending time with Liz, Pat and Thelma. The three ladies were the sweetest (and they were in the second) but I struggled to feed as endeared by them in this second book. The mystery wasn’t mystery enough for me and I lost interest quite early on in the story. I don’t think I’d give up completely on this crazy group of ladies and I’d still give another book in the series a chance if there was one. Unfortunately this time, I didn’t love this second instalment nearly as much as the first.


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