Prah, Constantine and Baryeh Reviews: Pains and Penalties (Geeks and Things 1) by Sarah Biglow

If you've been following us closely, you may have noticed there was no review posted last month. Well that's on account of... I have a new baby! 

As you may have guessed, I had a lot on my plate and couldn't commit to reading and reviewing for April.

We're back this month with our 3-for-the-price-of-1 reviews :-). For same reason as stated above, we selected a short story titled: Pains and Penalties: (A Geeks and Things Cozy Mystery Novella #1)  by Sarah Biglow.

Here's the blurb
A new amateur sleuth is on the case in the first book of this Cozy Mystery novella series. 

When Kalina Greystone returns home to the small town of Ellesworth, MA in the wake of her father's passing to take over the family's comic book shop, she never expects to reconnect with her old flame, Detective Christian Harper. But when elderly Mrs. Davies winds up murdered at the annual Solstice Fair, Kalina can't help but get swept up in his investigation and solving the case. 

While Detective Harper runs his investigation, she cozies up to the dead woman’s best friend, Mrs. Grant, and learns that she and a third woman, Ms. Ellicott, might be targets. Someone has sent them notes with the cryptic warning ‘Lying is a mortal sin’. As Kalina digs deeper into the women’s shared past, she unearths the perjury that sentenced an innocent man to prison. After discovering Ms. Ellicott dead in her home, Kalina and Detective Harper must race to unmask the killer before vengeance can be sated.

My Review
I was curious to find out how the author managed to wrap up a mystery in less than 100 pages. At the beginning of the book, we meet our heroine Kalina who has moved to her childhood home of Ellesworth, MA. We see her hard at work in the bookshop she's inherited from her father. In this scene, we're also introduced to her nephew with whom she has a close relationship - something I liked. Kalina is a little nosy, as every amateur sleuth should be, and has a keen eye. I found her likeable.

While I enjoyed the story as a whole, there were 3 major things that didn't work for me:

  1. Despite what the blurb says, the mystery is solved almost entirely by Kalina while the police piggy backs on her work, which is both unrealistic and puts the hero in a bad light. No one likes a clueless policeman hero!
  2. The story is too short and the problem with that is the author is unable to fully develop her characters to enable us to get fully invested in them. The length also makes it difficult to add twists and turns, which I think are a necessary part of mystery novels. Though I have to say that the author did a good job with how much she worked into the number of pages she had.
  3. I was expecting romance, (given that the blurb says "reconnect with her old flame") but the story is more about Kalina than it is about Detective Harper. In fact, romance doesn't actually happen in this book. We discover they ended up together in the excerpt of book 2 provided at the end of the book.
If you're looking for a short, uncomplicated story to while away a free hour or two, this definitely fits the bill and Ms Ellicott is an interesting character. Hopefully, we see more character development in subsequent books.

Don't forget to check out review from Prah and Constantine.


  1. We are in agreement on this one, Empi!!! Congratulations on your precious little one!!!!

  2. Very astute review. And I agree wholeheartedly. I'm so glad you shared about your baby. Congratulations.


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