Starving Review: Steele Resolve (The Detective Jasmine Steele Series 1) by Kimberly Amato

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Steele Resolve (The Detective Jasmine Steele Series 1) by Kimberly Amato (Amazon, Goodreads)

It’s Christmas at Starving Reviews LLC, but that doesn’t mean we can sleep on the job, no sir!  We have some fresh literary cuisine to tuck into, straight from the pantry, just to make your day complete.  This week, we get back into the nitty-gritty of some noir detective tales as we sink our teeth into Steele Resolve.  Will this treat match up to the genre’s illustrious meals of the past or will it be as tasty as an actual mouthful of steel?

Before we take that first bite, let’s take the oath of the Starving Reviewer:

  1. I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre
  2. I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible

At first taste, Resolve looks to tick off all the standard noir detective flavors.  Gruesome murders, a flawed protagonist, and a twisting case that takes several sharps werves are all core spices in this dish.  However, bite in deeper and let those bites dissolve slowly over the tongue and something else comes to the fore.

The truth is, for me as a reader, Resolve is more of a character study of our protagonist as she is trying to rebuild her shattered life amidst these murders than a traditional mystery yarn.  We get big bites about the inner workings of our heroine as she is forced to confront her own shortcomings and the tragedies of her past.  That is where the greatest drama and conflicts of this story lie, alongside some rather well-cooked romantic turns.  It is the sharp flavors and distinct spice of this drama, alongside that of the other main characters of the book, that give Resolve its true flavor and charm.

This does come at a downside, however.  The actual criminal mystery itself is not as involved or as intricate as it might have been in a full-on crime drama dish.  It isn’t illogical or half-baked, though.  It simply remains a secondary ribbon of flavor in this meal as opposed to the primary thrust.  Still, for a lover of a good mystery such as myself, I was a bit disappointed in this, as I feel that both elements could have been equally balanced, creating a richer flavor profile, without neglecting the vital character study.

A quick note on plot and pacing here before we wrap it up:  I have to give the chef kudos in that, despite the set-up for a continuing metaplot for the series, she does not make that critical error in letting that set-up ruin the finale of this volume.  The meal finishes nicely with a dessert course that brings it to a close, yet still leaves you with a hint of what is to come.  It’s a point that is often done wrong in other literary meals, so I feel it deserves a special mention when it gets done right.

To bring it all together, Steele Resolve is more intense character study than mystery, but it’s still a tasty treat of a drama with hints of greater things to come!  If you like character-based dramas and crime novels, I would recommend checking this out.  However, if you are a mystery purist, you may not enjoy this as much as you may a more traditional mystery novel.

FINAL VERDICT: **** (More character study than mystery, but still a tasty dramatic treat!)

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