My name is Kimberly and I'm the reader/reviewer behind Wit and Sin. Wit and Sin is a website that provides honest reviews and publicity. I primarily read and review Romance titles, but I also review Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult, Mystery, and Non-Fiction titles. In addition to Wit and Sin, I am a reviewer for Joyfully Reviewed (pen name: Shayna) and Romance Junkies (pen name: Lily).
A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic is a story I wanted to like much more than I did. As a cozy mystery, it hits every single element, down to the (mostly) kooky cast of characters, led by the cosplay-loving, geeky heroine herself. Yet, for me, there was something missing. The characters all felt less developed in this second Geek Girls Mysteries outing, the mystery was not at all mysterious, and the first half of the book moved far too slowly.
IT manager and would-be sleuth Mia Connors is back in action mere months after the events of A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder, and to author Julie Anne Lindsey’s credit, the traumatic events that occurred in the first story have stayed with Mia. That doesn’t mean our inquisitive heroine will hesitate to jump right back into a murder mystery at the local Faire. Her eagerness to track down a killer overpowers her common sense, and I can’t blame either Jake or his homicide detective brother for being frustrated by Mia’s interfering with a murder investigation. Mia buzzes about like a bee, causing and getting into trouble in ways that are sometimes charming and sometimes strain credulity. Still, Mia’s got an upbeat nature, a strong personality, and realistic vulnerabilities that I found appealing. It’s those things that keep the story moving along when scenes threatened to drag.
Jake is one of the few bastions of calm in A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic, and as intrigued as I was by him in the first book, I was looking forward to diving into his character more. Sadly, we don’t get to learn very much more about Jake and what we do uncover is quickly glossed over. Mia’s family is far more present than Jake, yet for some reason they took a step back in this book, becoming less realized as characters. The Connors clan dropped into single-note caricatures, often for laughs, which was a bit of a disappointment since they were a strong presence in the story.
As for the murder mystery itself, A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic falls victim to the same problem A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder had: the bad guy is practically wearing flashing lights. I didn’t expect the mystery to be difficult to solve, but a bit of guesswork and more organic motivations for the villain would have been appreciated. As it stands, the mystery felt more like a device to get Mia from one location/quirky character to the next. This was a pity, because the story and the series as a whole truly have potential. All in all, A Geek Girl’s Guide to Arsenic isn’t a bad read. It has funny moments, geeky pop culture references that are charming, and the leading characters are likeable and have the potential to be truly interesting.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.