When I decided to read Angel’s advocate by Mary Stanton I was intrigued by the paranormal aspects and the setting. I thought the idea of a lawyer representing dead people was interesting and Savannah is a wonderful town for a mystery – particularly a paranormal one. But it was also the second book in a series so I was faced with the decision to read the first book or just dive in. I decided just to read book two and take it from there.
This might have been a mistake. It turned out to be an interesting mix – a blend of cozy and paranormal mystery – but starting with the second book had its problems. Here is some background and plot summary:
Stanton’s Beaufort & Company Mystery series features Brianna “Bree” Winston-Beaufort, the oldest daughter of a wealthy, eccentric South Carolina family, who inherits a haunted law firm smack dab in the middle of a graveyard in Savannah, Georgia.
In Angel’s Advocate, Bree is back to business unusual at Beaufort & Company. With her most peculiar (a.k.a. “dead”) clientele and her anything-but-angelic staff, Bree finds that money’s a bit tight at Beaufort & Company. After all, while the dead certainly need Bree’s help in appealing to a higher court, they’re not exactly paying clients.
Bree finally lands a case to help pay the bills when she is hired to represent Lindsey Chandler, a spoiled teenager accused of stealing a Girl Scout’s cookie money. But this isn’t exactly a case of petty theft, since Lindsey allegedly tried to run over said Girl Scout with her Hummer. And if that weren’t bad enough, Lindsey is anything but remorseful, making this case -and Bree, by association – the talk of Savannah.
To her dismay, Bree soon finds that Lindsay’s deceased father, millionaire Probert Chandler, also needs her help to prove that his death was no accident.
As I seem to be saying a lot lately, I think your enjoyment of this one will depend to a large degree on your taste in mysteries. I am not a big reader of cozies. I tend a bit more toward the thrillers or noir side. But Angel’s Advocate struck me as an enjoyable and creative blending of genres. If you like cozies and are looking for something a little different I think this book would appeal.I once again, however, had trouble finding my way while reading the second book in a series. This did not have the feel of a stand alone book in many ways. The non-paranormal aspect worked fine. Bree starts by agreeing to take on a troubled teenager to pay the bills but finds out the trouble goes much deeper and that the death of her father is connected to the petty crime of stealing Girl Scout money.
But the angelic, or paranormal, aspect was a little harder to follow. There really wasn’t any attempt to review what happened in the first novel for the reader who missed it. The whole rationale and structure of that aspect of the series was rather mysterious as a result. And this gave the book a thin feeling. Like the character’s weren’t flushed out or fully developed. But they were, I assume, just in the previous book.
This may be part of the cozy style, but I also felt that the paranormal threat was a little too vague to truly be threatening. Bree is chased by the dead/undead, and she is given protection in the form of two massive black Newfoundland dogs, and but many of these scenes seem to fall flat. You would think the laid back nature of the novel would highlight the few scarier moments but that wasn’t the case.
But I think the combination of not having read the first book (or any of the authors work for that matter) and not really being a fan of the genre/style lays at the heart of my complaints. For the most part the book was enjoyable, and the plot creative, but it just didn’t grab me or have enough zip to it for my tastes.
So if you enjoy the cozy style and are looking for a different spin on the genre, check out Mary Stanton’s Beaufort & Company series. But if you are unfamiliar with this particular style of mystery, then I offer the classic warning: your mileage may vary.