MURDERED: Can YOU Solve the Mystery by James Schannep is, according to the author, a work of fiction that features actual locations and businesses in conjunction with fictional and fictionalized elements—woven together to give the story a “noir” feel.
You (yes, YOU are one the main characters in this book!) are on vacation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. You are counting days to the Carnaval—touted as one of the grandest fiestas on the planet. You are a bit high on drinks and have gotten separated from your friends thanks to the pre-Carnaval crowd. There are non-stop drumbeats behind you—creating a sort of background score to the whole scene you are about to encounter. While roaming the streets and taking in the sights like every other tourist, you stumble upon the dead body of a woman. Just across from her is a revolver with a note that simply says “Pick Me Up.”
Here comes choice #1. Do you pick that gun up or just leave it there? And, that’s when the story begins…
I don’t usually opt for murder mysteries—especially if they involve gore. I read the blurb of the book and found it to be fairly “safe” in that area. Hence, I really was looking forward to reading it—for all the mystery and action. Once I started off with my first choice, I kept going ahead with the story not quite realizing how far I was moving ahead with it. I quickly found that reading the book gave you this feeling that you are actually reading multiple books at the same time—given the innumerable choices you get to make throughout the book—each choice leading you to a different flow of the story.
I found the writing style to be fresh. It’s not always that the reader gets to be “in” the story. I found just one grammatical error—nothing major—and it didn’t affect the quality of the reading in any way.
The tone of storytelling is quite youthful and upbeat. To be quite honest, however, though I enjoyed clicking on the choices and seeing where they landed me in the story—toward the end—the available choices could not keep me engrossed. I am not implying that the story was not engaging enough. I just feel that the chapters could have been a little longer—just enough to flesh up the characters a little more—before the choices were sprung on me. Also, some chapters just gave me one choice and still the text underneath it read “Make Your Choice.” That made me feel like there needed to be other alternative routes I could have been offered, but I had to go with the one choice that the author wanted me to take.
As an example, here’s an excerpt from the book:
Once out of earshot of the others, Danly says, “I need to spend a few hours at the consulate. Can you take a taxi back to the hotel? Take a shower, maybe a nap—I’ll check on Bertram and ring your room when I get back.”
“Sure thing,” you reply.
>Back to Rio
MAKE YOUR CHOICE
I did expect so much more from the story itself. Once you have reached the end of the book, it offers the reader a choice to start over with different choices. I went through the choices once more and went through the whole “new” version of the story. But, I did not find both versions compelling enough for me to go through the next sets of options and see where the story went from there.
I must add here that it is an interesting approach to mystery writing. One cannot deny that. However, it is the short length of the chapters and the lack of substantial character development that influenced my rating for the most part. I wish the story gave more of an opportunity for the readers to get emotionally invested in the characters more. I thus rate MURDERED: Can YOU Solve the Mystery? 2 out of 4 stars as my reading experience with this book was a little below my expectations. However, I would like to stress that this is just my personal opinion, as I have seen many other sites showcasing 5-star reviews of the same book. So, I guess it is just a matter of personal preference. I think the book will resonate with the YA-lovers the most.