Review: Stealing Lumby by Gail Fraser

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Dana Porter is a famous painter whose most famous work, The Barns of Lumby, is stolen en route to a London museum. The owner of the painting, Norris Fiddler, is raising a lot of hue and cry, while at the same time, milking the theft for all its worth. Back in Lumby, home to the barns in the painting, the residents are thrust into a limelight they do not want, as reporters from across have set camp in town to glean more news. While the FBI and several detectives try to crack the global case of a stolen painting, Lumby has its own quirky mysteries. Town's octogenarian, Charlotte Ross, seems to have a strange connection to the barn and the painting. The flourishing rum sauce business of the monks of Saint Cross Abbey is the victim of a hostile takeover. Katie is puzzled by her missing goats and low goat milk yield on one end, and by her growing feelings for a reporter.

Stealing Lumby is the second book in the Lumby series by Gail Fraser. (Read my review of the first book, The Lumby Lines.) These books do not have to be read in series to be understood, though that obviously helps to know the background history of some characters and events. For those not aware of the Lumby series, Lumby is a fictional town in the US, whose people are very quirky. In fact, as former New Yorker Pam Walker says to Brother Matthew when he catches her reading the New York Times,
"...it's so different from The Lumby Lines that it's almost unbelievable that we live in the same country. Their stories cover pension funds and murders, and ours are about wiener dog races and a bovine Iditarod."
After reading the highly entertaining The Lumby Lines, I was a tad disappointed with Stealing Lumby. Both books are very predictable, with mysteries that aren't hard to solve. The pace of the series is slow with conversations detailed. While these are usually characteristics that turn off readers, the Lumby books stand out in that the town and the characters are charming in their innocence. The pace and the predictability in no way interfered with my expectations. These are the kind of books you want to read after some heavy reads.

That said, Stealing Lumby had way too many central characters. The Lumby Lines had a lot of characters too, but the focus was primarily on a small group of them. Keeping track of all the characters was not a trouble at all, but I would have loved the focus to be on just a few of them. Still, the aspect I liked was that being the second book of the series, I already knew most of the characters, so they didn't feel like "new" characters to me. But someone reading this book for the first time could likely be bothered by that. Moreover, some features that made The Lumby Lines entertaining, such as the regular appearance of Hank, the flamingo, and the frequent Sheriff reports of silly town problems were missing. Both were there in this book, but they were hardly observed.

The biggest difference I observed between the two books was in how much tinier the Lumby town as a character was. The book's enjoyment owes to the quirkiness of the town, but with so many characters to keep track of, that was somehow lost. I couldn't feel the charm of the town as much as in the first book. Aside from that, this was still enjoyable and the characters lively. Lumby is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone else and everyone knows when to respect others. They stand up for each other and come together when help is needed. You don't see such towns anywhere, which is why this is fiction. I still wished to go to Lumby for real as I was reading this book.

  

Check out this book @ Goodreads, BetterWorldBooks, Amazon, B&N.

I received this book for free from FSB Associates for review.

3 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I hope this is a sophomore slump for the series.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

A bummer. I had high hopes for this series :) Thanks for your honesty :)

Aths said...

Kathy, that's what I'm hoping too!

Juju, you're welcome! I'm hoping the next book will be better!