This fast-paced novella packs a punch in just over 100 pages of crime-solving drama. Smart and sassy heroine, Emlyn Goode, uses her wits and some divination from her magical ancestors to solve extraordinary mysteries.
The Day the Music Died by Susan Lynn Solomon is part of a larger series of crime novellas starring Emlyn Goode. This book was my first time reading Solomon’s work, but I never felt lost. The Emlyn Goode novels stand on their own like episodes from a larger story.
I enjoyed getting to know Emlyn, her enigmatic cat Elivra, her feisty friend Rebecca, and the two men in their lives. Roger and Harry are detectives, but it’s Emlyn and Rebecca who do most of the sleuthing. Emlyn’s narrative voice is casual and intimate. As I was reading, I felt like we were friends discussing her latest misadventure over a shared bottle of wine. She’s perceptive but stubborn, and it’s clear she values her friendships. However, my favorite character is Emlyn’s spontaneous friend Rebecca. Her wild comments and carefree attitude bring levity and fun to the dark and dangerous mystery surrounding the two women. I love reading about Emlyn and Rebecca; Solomon’s book is at its best when these two are swapping banter, a snowy white cat giving them side-eye from the corner.
Roger and Harry, the book’s leading men, often feel like cookie-cutter cops. I want more depth from their characters than the traditional, stoic, masculine hero. Despite being police officers, they’re treated as secondary characters, but I’m looking forward to how Solomon continues to develop them in future installments.
The driving force behind the novel is a letter that arrives in chapter one. A crime scene follows, and from that moment, the book is a wild ride of identity, revenge, secrets, and betrayal. The setting of these events, a Niagara Falls town, feels familiar despite the short length of the novella. This familiarity is due to Solomon’s use of purposeful description that never feels overstuffed. She paints an accessible picture of Emlyn’s home, town, and surroundings. The Day the Music Died is never a burden to read, the progression of the novel natural and smooth.
Solomon’s plot is often propelled forward by dialogue. This effect keeps the novel feeling fresh and supports the quick pacing of the story. There were moments I lost myself in the natural banter between characters. I often felt more like a participant in the drama of their lives than a spectator reading from the safety of my home.
The mystery itself, which I will not give away, is exciting and emotional. Solomon’s conclusion is satisfying, and the ending answered all my questions. I also found the inclusion of subtle magic to be a unique and intriguing addition. Emlyn often uses whispers of the past to help her find answers or point the way, but the use of such tools is never overt. This element increased the mystery to the story. I found myself wanting to pick up another installment of Emlyn’s adventures to see more of her witch-ancestry in action.
Unfortunately, Solomon’s book contained numerous grammatical errors. While I often bypass commenting on these issues (no manuscript is ever 100% perfect), I cannot, in good conscience, refrain from mentioning this. However, even with the errors, Solomon’s story is engaging and well worth the read.
You should read this book if: you love crime novels, supernatural mysteries, or you’re looking for a short novella to read during a flight or at the beach. The Day the Music Died is exciting, fast-paced, and full of surprises that will keep you reading until the mystery is solved. Check out more of Susan Lynn Solomon’s work here, and keep supporting indie authors and publishers!