Book Review: “Off Kilter,” by Hannah Reed

Happy Thursday! I only procrastinated a *little* writing this review (read: a lot!) but I am happy to finally put hands to keyboard and send it off. Off Kilter was my first Hannah Reed experience, and I didn’t hate it.


From the Publisher:

After the recent death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, thirty-something Eden Elliott is seriously in need of a fresh start. At the urging of her best friend, bestselling author Ami Pederson, Eden decides to embark on an open-ended trip to the picturesque village of Glenkillen in the Scottish Highlands, to do some hands-on research for a book of her own. But almost as soon as Eden arrives in the quaint town, she gets caught up in a very real drama…

The town’s sheep shearer is found murdered—clipped with his own shears—and the locals suspect Vicki MacBride, an outsider whose father’s recent death left her the surprise heir to his lucrative sheep farm. Eden refuses to believe the affable heiress is a murderer, but can she prove that someone is out to frame her new friend before she finds herself on the receiving end of more shear terror? 


What I Loved:

  • The Scottish Highlands. Reed really wrote a spectacular description of the Scottish Highlands. It helps that protagonist Eden is there to get a feel for the land and the people to help write her own book (very meta), so we are experiencing Scotland as she is, with every detail laid out. Lush greenery, beautiful flowers, windy roads, and fluffy soft sheep. Neighbors whenever you need them a couple of farms over, delicious friend Scottish food, and a welcoming local pub. Despite the murder, I wanted to visit Scotland with Eden.
  • Leith Cameron, farmer extraordinaire. Here is a hunky leading love interest for Eden. Leith is sturdy, dependable, and handy. He isn’t the normal “broody, dark eyed, and baggage a mile long” type of love interest, but the kind of guy you can go to the pub with after work, call if your car breaks down, and settle down with on his sheep farm and fishing boat. He is direct and doesn’t mess around with Eden’s emotions. And what girl doesn’t like a guy in a kilt?

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • Eden. It is rough to not be a huge fan of a main character, but I had two big issues with her. First, I thought Eden’s conclusions were made with such illogical leaps that they made no sense and could not have led her down the right path. Her decisions about how to approach the murder made no sense, and mostly ended up making her a bit of a social pariah until everything settled. Second, and perhaps more importantly, Eden is judgmental AF. She judges Vicki (her eventual new best friend) on the plane ride to Scotland, and then the innkeeper’s daughter gets a full paragraph of judgy language because her hair is dyed and she has a tattoo. Eden just seems sort of miserable. I hope Scotland makes her more accepting.
  • Inspector Jamieson. Now, here is a slightly different complaint. I liked the Inspector; he is smart and methodical, unlike many other cozy mystery detectives, and he clearly wants to do the right thing. However, I found his candor with Eden unrealistic and off-putting, since she is a murder and arson suspect for at least half the book. For someone that is portrayed as a good detective with professional mannerisms and a good head on his shoulders, this seems out of character.

Conclusion:

Off Kilter was a cute cozy mystery that was a nice change of scenery, literally, from most cozies set in the US. The mystery was a little too easy and the characters are hard to connect with, but the setting was so gorgeous it almost made up for it, and it comes with the bonus of a hot man in a kilt with a dog. I plan on reading the second from the library and taking it from there. Three waves! Order here or here (man do I love mass market PB prices) and enjoy a quiet post Labor Day weekend binge reading this series on a beach.

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