I have read every one of Jill Churchill's books, both from the Jane Jeffry series and the "Grace and Favor" series. I've always thought of the Jane Jeffry books as special treats -- each a quick read loaded with good characters, humor, a dead body or two (usually offed in a creative way), and a great friendship between Jane and Shelly. Jane has always seemed like, well, me! She is a stay-at-home mom, who is happily involved in her kids' lives, in her romance with Mel, and in many local crimes. OK, so the crime part isn't at all like my own life, but the rest of the stuff is! The last book, "Bell, Book, and Scandal" was just awful. I reluctantly picked up this book, hoping that maybe whoever had been masquerading as Jill Churchill for "Bell, . . ." had been exorcised and that Jill herself was back! But alas, this book is only marginally better than the last.
Jane is helping Shelly evaluate caterers at a theatre Shelly's husband has donated to the local college. A lackluster play is being produced, and a member of the production is killed. No one seems to care much, and Mel actually asks Jane and Shelly for their opinions on the case -- a big departure from the character's usual behavior, where he constantly warns Jane to keep her nose out of his murder investigation. Why the change? I couldn't tell you, because it was never clear to me in the book. There is very little suspense, the case is solved, and Jane and Shelly work on needlepoint.
I am really disappointed, because I miss the old Jane and Shelly, and Mel. None of the characters seem to have the depth that they used to, and the writing has become so stilted I still believe that Jill Churchill is letting someone else write the book. I just can't get over the change in writing style -- it doesn't make sense.
I don't know if I'm going to read the next Jane Jeffry book, whenever that comes out. I'll still read the "Grace and Favor" books, because those have been consistently entertaining. Again, this is where I get confused because why is there such a difference between the two series?