With an evocative opener that less drew me in than dragged me in and held my attention, the slightly depressed and maudlin opener of redundancy and a morgue double whammy belied the true heart of this witty mystery with its whipcrack 40's repartee and engaging LGBTQ cast of characters. This won't be for everyone but I found it entertaining and not too taxing.
I was grateful to receive this as an ARC. But unfortunately this book was not one I would hurry to pick up again as I did find it hard to get into.
I can appreciate how it tries to open up important discussions about the treatment of sex workers and how you can be discriminated against for your sexual preferences.
This book is an exciting take on the mystery genre. It is diverse and is full of queer (lgbt+) characters
Though I would have liked to enjoy this book, I did not find the story engaging, and ended up shelving it a little over halfway through reading, as I did not see it picking up in the near future. I appreciated the mystery aspect and the discussion of important issues facing minorities in our world today, but neither the story itself nor the characters were particularly exciting to read about for someone like me.
I really didn't enjoy this book all that much. While the idea is amazing and I really wanted to love a bisexual detective, it seemed as if this book was trying too hard to be quirky that it just became boring.
There was much to enjoy here, but I found I couldn't connect with it. I'd read more from this author in the future though.
Did not finish at 10%. This book had an interesting premise but the execution did not work for me. There were some questionable choices in the way marginalized groups were described (especially Asian people) that made me uncomfortable. It was clearly going for a style, but should have been more intentional about its language.
I couldn't get very far into this one, it just felt like it was... trying too hard. Trying too hard to be acerbic but lovable, quippy but gritty. It made all the characters come across as caricatures, and I just couldn't get into it.
p.s. I hate to sound like a prude, but there were some terms for queer people I, as a queer person, really don't like being used. Even if Isabel is queer herself, it was still really jarring to read.
Where to begin? This books feels like a cozy mystery because, even though most of the characters are familiar with the seedy underbelly of the city, the protagonists are good, upstanding people. However, its cast of misfit and its Dashell Hammett, detective fiction feel where the narrator breaks the fourth wall, makes it clear that this is not a cozy.
Our narrator, a former social worker turned crime solver, is the star and the main reason why I enjoyed this book. I loved her snark and I loved her empathy. She behaves in unconventional ways and is more Christian in her actions than the family member who prays for her salvation.
This a world I want to visit again, but I struggle to identify which of my friends I would recommend it to.
"Rescued from torpor and poverty by the need to help a good friend deal with the murder of her beloved granddaughter, our downsized-social-worker protagonist and her cat, Bunnywit, are jolted into a harsh, street-wise world of sex, lies, and betrayal, to which they respond with irony, wit, intelligence (except for the cat), and tenacity. With judicious use of the Oxford comma, pop culture trivia, common mystery tropes, and a keen eye for deceit, our protagonist swaggers through the mean streets of — yes, a Canadian city! — and discovers that what seems at first to be just a grotty little street killing is actually the surface of a grandiose and glittering set of criminal schemes." Something inherently enjoyable about this.
I requested an e-arc of this book through NetGalley because the plot sounded really interesting. Queer Nancy Drew? Sign me up.
Unfortunately, like many of the other reviewers have said, this book just is not good. The dialog and writing tries too hard to be quirky and was just too painful to read. The book tried to be diverse, but it's characterization of some of its queer characters was too uncomfortable for me, a queer woman, to get through.
It's an okay book, but it's not for me and not something I would recommend to my queer friends or library patrons.
The narrator’s strong personality and wicked humour provides a strong anchor to this story filled with murder, mystery, and a fun cast of characters
I was really excited for this novel as the blurb made it sound so interesting and it was refreshing to see an openly queer character in the crime/thriller genre. However, I found it difficult to read as the narration felt overly complicated and veered off track at points. I will admit I didn’t manage to finish this, but I’m sure others will enjoy the addition to the genre.
I loved this book! The chapter titles are a complete poem (The Adventures of Isabel by Ogden Nash) and it just gets cooler from there. The protagonist (and narrator) is quirky, witty, and intelligent. She’s pansexual, which is unusual to see represented in media, and the cast of characters span the spectrum of sexuality.
Mysteries and detective fiction aren’t usually my bag but from my point of view the plot was detailed, believable, and well set up yet still surprising. This is queer noir for the 21st century and I’ll be recommending it to everyone. It looks like this book is set to be the first in a series and I can’t wait for more.
I really wanted to like The Adventures of Isabel, LGBTQ+ storyline, sex work positive, murder mystery.... but a few things really didn't work for me. While the story itself is interesting, and I LOVED Hep. I had a really hard time connecting with the characters and the author's writing style. The author seemed to speak more for the characters than allowing the characters to speak for themselves also found the book structure really odd, some chapters were pages long, some were just a sentence or two, but the jumps between the paragraphs didn't really make sense. I think this is definitely a book for some people, it just wasn't for me.
Thank you to NetGalley and ECW Press for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
2.50 Stars. I hate to say this but this book was not for me. I would have DNF’d it if this was not a review copy. I struggled and took twice as long to read it than I expected. I love mysteries and a mystery staring a bisexual -or actually ambisexual- woman sounded great to me. Unfortunately, this was just not a match for my personal tastes.
The author has a very unique way of writing. This was first person but it was where the narrator speaks to you the reader. She also used third person a few times and there were even footnotes. And I almost forgot but the chapters were wicked short and choppy which was jarring at times. Now, take one or two of these different ways to write and I’m with you. I actually like the idea of first person for the main character and using third a few times to see what a main-secondary character is experiencing, but when you put all of those oddball things together it becomes way to gimmicky for me.
Not only did I find the style gimmicky but the book made me feel a little stupid at times. I lost count of how many times I had no idea what was going on or what the author was trying to say. I kept asking out loud “what did I just read?” Maybe I’m not cool enough or smart enough to get it, I don’t know.
I did think the author seemed “woke” about certain issues which I liked, but I do have to say I was a bit uncomfortable a couple times. The slur for a trans person was used and not called out which I just didn’t understand. I’m hoping this was taken out of the copy before this book was officially released. I also didn’t like how the first non-explicit, sex scenes started. The main character takes a homeless woman back to her apartment to feed and bathe. Once she is cleaned up the main character is now attracted to her so she asks about having sex with the homeless woman. My problem is how she asked about it. She basically says that the homeless woman should go wash herself off with bug shampoo so they can have sex. She’s treating the woman like a dog, here is your flea and tick powder, go wash up some more so I can f*ck you. Yeah that was just a big no for me.
There were a few good things here. I really liked the religious crazy cousin. I don’t normally say that but she was a really well-written character. I also liked some parts of the mystery. The problem was we would get into the flow of the mystery but then the main character would go on a tangent and the flow would stop. The author even tried to help us readers by repeating a few clues so we wouldn’t have to flip back, but even that felt overdone to me. I think authors should trust their reader’s which means trusting us to remember. Last good thing, there were a few really good quotes. The main is witty but her humor doesn’t always land, but when it does, out pops a few very clever quotes.
As a mystery fan I really wanted to love this. I think the biggest thing is stylistically this was not for me. When I’m having trouble even understanding what is going on, I know a book is not working for my tastes. There is going to be a sequel but I think out of fairness to the author and myself, I have to stop here. This is a book that may work better for others. I would suggest downloading a sample on Amazon -if they have one- so you can see if style wise this book might be for you.
Sadly I wasn’t able to finish this book and provide a full review. I tried to get into it a number of times but never succeeded.
I wasn’t fond of the fact the storyline is based on the murder of a sex worker and the writing style didn’t work for me.
I really wanted to enjoy this as it’s clearly a queer positive book so I’d say that if you like queer fiction you should give it a try - it just wasn’t for me.
I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to NetGalley and ECW Press for the copy of The Adventures of Isabel. This is a voluntary review.
The Adventures of Isabel handles some very difficult, complicated subjects realistically and with strong dialogue. If you like detective stories in Canadian cities this is for you. I appreciated the diversity and interactions of all the characters. They are from all walks of life, but their lives intertwine in different ways as Isabel investigates. And it's very queer!!! (Yay!)
At times I found the pacing of the story difficult to get into. While entertaining, occasionally it read as if it was trying too hard to be funny or 'quirky'. However, it just might not be my type of humour. Overall, it was an interesting read with themes that were explored well.
Narrated by an ambisexual social worker turned amateur detective, this is notable for its diversity and the rapid pace of the one liners. She's trying to find out what really happened to Madeline, whose murder has been written off as yet another death in the sex worker community in their Canadian city. I wanted to like this- I really did- but it just got to be too much. Make no mistake, other wisecracking detectives also annoy me after a bit so that's on me not on Dorsey. I'm hopeful that there will be a followup and that some of the snark will be pared back a bit because there's a very good character in here. Thanks to Netgalley for the ArC.
I did not finish this book, I didn’t even get to page fifty.
I just felt like it was trying to hard to be quirky and it was a bad eyeroll moment