Jeanne of the Bookblogof the Bristol Library is back today with her latest review…
Treadmill Books: The Dream Club Mysteries by Mary Kennedy
Taylor Blake has spent years as a business consultant, but now her expertise is needed a little closer to home: her younger sister Allison has opened Oldies but Goodies, a shop featuring classic candies, and things are not going well. Allison has always been the creative one, but her attention span is somewhat short. Taylor’s job is to try to get the store on a sound footing and keep Allison from throwing in the towel. The shop also serves as the meeting place for the Dream Club, a group which meets regularly to discuss their dreams and possible meanings.
As part of the campaign to save Oldies but Goodies, Taylor proposes cross promotion with some of the other merchants in the area. One of them, a smarmy dance instructor, soon ends up dead—definitely not good for business in the area—and especially not good as he had been hitting on both Allison and Taylor.
That’s the plot of Nightmares Can Be Murder, the first in the Dream Club Mystery series. The hook is the dream interpretation aspect, and given that the author is a clinical psychologist I felt the dream aspect would be handled professionally. The Dream Club usually provides some clues to the crimes, but also offers many different interpretations that can help or hinder the investigation.
I particularly enjoyed the candy descriptions in the first book; it was a real walk down Memory Lane. The mention of Mallow Cups, Smoothies, colored wax lips, Clark Bars, and Zagnuts all brought back childhood memories—even if I didn’t eat them, I remembered seeing them in the candy section. I also liked the brainstorming about how to promote and publicize the shop, which seemed well considered. Since the library is often involved in cross promotion, I could well understand the nuances. Both these aspects were more prominent in the first book and to tell the truth, I rather missed them. I understand that I’m probably the only person who did. They also had to carefully consider the realities of location: soft chocolates would melt in the Savannah heat during the summer, for example, so not a good choice for an outdoor promotion. Little details such as that charmed me.
The dream interpretation was interesting, allowing for some paranormal as well as psychological interpretations. Some valuable clues show up, but often in vague forms. Club members do a bit of free association to try to illuminate some details.
I’ve read two of the three in the series, and for me the weakness is in the characters. They never came alive for me. Allison is impractical but creative. Taylor is sensible (except when she isn’t, at one point in the first book) and businesslike. The members of the Dream Club also fall into broad categories. Since I’m a character oriented reader for the most part, I just never quite got involved with books. The plots are fine, the dreams are interesting, but I didn’t feel compelled to rush out and get the next book.
As treadmill books, they worked okay. They kept me reading but didn’t inspire any extra steps. The same author has a series set in talk radio, which I may try as well.
Titles in the series: