Tone Dead by Sydney Preston

I love murder mysteries like this. They don’t tax you too much with their grittiness as it’s all about the investigation and getting to the truth of the mystery and you usually have a capable and likeable detective/policeman/investigator to hold your hand as you follow them through their discoveries as well as getting an insight into who they are as a person.

And that is exactly what you get with Sydney Preston’s Tone Dead: a light murder mystery which unfolds on beautiful Vancouver Island in the safe hands of Jimmy Tan, dependable and determined to seek out the truth by doggedly using all his powers of detection to unearth the killer.

When a journalist is found murdered at a local heritage site, it transpires that there may be more to her identity than was first thought. A reviewer with an acerbic attitude towards classical music, Diane Drake was not revered by the musical community in Britannia Bay but surely her scathing summaries of performances would not be sufficient to prompt murder, would they?

Detective Tan is not satisfied with the assumptions that the other officers make about the reasons behind her untimely demise and determines to continue investigating.

What I really like about mysteries which are set in small communities is the sense that you get of the atmosphere within them, created by the full spectrum of people who make them what they are. You meet the older people like Delilah with her passion for the Blue Jays and the gossipy Abernathys who revel in finding out the tidbits of other people’s lives to provide their amusement. Preston has created a range of characters in this novel, just enough for the Britannia Bay community to feel whole and just short of making too many for it to be confusing.

Most importantly, I liked her protagonist, Jimmy and his wife, Ariel and the relationship that Preston creates between them with their two cats and their cosy, comfortable life.

In fact, there was nothing that I didn’t like about this novel. For me, books like Tone Dead are a delight as they provide you with a good story that you can enjoy, characters to whom you can warm, action and plot which is not transparent and is revealed at a pace which is steady, keeping enough mystery to tempt but not frustrate and the occasional twist which surprises – a thoroughly satisfying read.

This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.

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