Bumped Off in Baltimore Book Review

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.com and originally appeared on Novelspot. I received a free copy of the e-book for review from the publisher in return for an honest review.

I’m a mystery fan and a former resident of Baltimore, so I jumped at the opportunity to read a mystery set there. I love visiting the city, even if it is just in my mind, and checking out my old stomping grounds. What can I say; I’m a Balti-moron.

Bumped Off in Baltimore opens with main character Toni Credella, a dyslexic apprentice PI, accepting a job as a bodyguard to a beautiful opera singer having problems with an abusive ex-boyfriend. This parallels Toni’s life as she is also a spousal-abuse survivor who just happened to kill her own husband in self-defense. When not working as a PI, she’s trying to make ends meet with her own decorating business. Things get hairy when her latest client, a local socialite and activist, is murdered and Toni may have been the last person to see her alive.

Ms. Titchener does a good job of weaving the stories of the opera singer who has underworld connections, the murder investigation of the socialite, a contract killer, and the sudden reappearance and subsequent disappearance of her Uncle Vanni. We follow Toni as she pedals her way around Baltimore’s neighborhoods unraveling the Gordian knot that threatens to entangle her.

The style is reminiscent of Robert B. Parker in his Spenser for Hire series with lots of short choppy dialogue and short scenes. While the story starts slowly, it picks up steam and toward the end, I couldn’t put it down. I was pleasantly surprised how the pieces fit together and happy that I hadn’t figured out the ending.

Ms. Titchener, a Baltimore resident herself, does an accurate job of placing the locations in Baltimore, but doesn’t quite bring the city to life. I wanted to get lost in the book; to feel like I was there with Toni, but it just didn’t happen.

I have a hard time relating to the main character because I’m not really sure who she is and how she fits into the world. As a reader, I want to form a mental picture of Toni early in the book–height, hair color, age, etc. These descriptive items are scattered throughout the book. Sadly, it was not until the end of the book that I really cared about her.

Would I recommend that you read it? Yes, especially if you’re looking for a quick read. Though if money is tight, you would be better off getting this one from the library.

(c) March 2006

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