Did You See Melody? has a thrilling, complex plot, but not so its execution

Did You See Melody Book Review

What is this about?: Cara Burrows is looking for a time out, and finds herself at a spa where she stumbles into the wrong room and sees a girl she’s sure has been dead for years. And from there, she kind of disappears and other characters take over the story. I wasn’t kidding about uneven.

What else is this about?: This is a complex mystery, I’ll give it that, but the execution is so muddled there’s nothing else going on here. It actually shouldn’t even try.

Stars: 3 for the plot; 2.5 for everything else

Blurb: Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

If ever there was a complex, interesting plot gone awry, Did you seen Melody? is it.

First up, Cara isn’t the main character as the blurb describes — sure she’s in part 1, but all but disappears from part 2. And furthermore, I take exception to the wording of the blurb: Cara didn’t abandon her family, and didn’t escape. She needed her time out because her family are a bunch of selfish, self-absorbed twats, I wish she’d abandoned. Nope, instead, Cara leaves to try and figure out what to do about a baby no one else in her family but her seem to want.

Good reason to take a time out, don’t you think? I thought so, and for:

Part one at least, things were good

Part one of this book is about Cara, neurotic, worried Cara who has given herself to her family, and who in turn gets a family who doesn’t give a fuck about her and what she needs. Seriously, I wanted her to have abandoned the idiots, God knows they deserve it.

(I have strong feelings about them)

So Cara arrives at the spa, gets given the wrong room and scores the mother of all upgrades to a bungalow, I think is the equivalent. I was listening to this book, so I don’t know how to spell the right word. Anyway, given the time the author spends delving into Cara and her character, you’d expect a healthy focus on her — and there is in part one. 

She meets a fellow guest Tarin Fry, who is loud, brash and has no fucks to give about anything — and has a mind like a steel trap. Behind the persona is an intelligent woman who knows how to play people. I totally liked her. 

Together with Cara, she investigates a Melody Chapa sighting by another older guest who says this every year. Not the most believable, but, Cara continues with her investigation, trying to find out exactly what she saw.

And then, Part 2 happens

Oi.

This is where the execution of this plot goes awry. The asinine husband arrives, determined to find Cara and figure out why she left, and Cara finally admits why she is so angry at her husband and her kids: I’m #TeamCara all the way. And for once, she stands up for herself and tells him to bugger off so she can figure things out.

Naturally, that’s when she gets kidnapped, and whiny, neurotic Cara is back — and I cannot stress the whiny, neurotic part enough in part 1 — I almost gave up on this book because of how whiny she was, but I was curious.

I gave her a pass here because well, kidnapped, but then technology happened — it’s been established that Cara isn’t technologically adept, which is fine, but to sit and type out a comment to her kid’s instagram, while the kidnapper is away and leaving her alone, instead of untying her feet and running? Why. WHY? 

(Also security cameras. Shouldn’t there be security cameras at places like a pool?)

But the bigger irritating part about this story is that Part 2 heralded an influx of characters that I didn’t expect — cops, FBI and Bonnie Juno, talks show host (I think you need to equate her to Nancy Grace) and her TV crew. This is when I realised Part 1 was actually an info dump, setting up the scene for part 2, through the use of technology ie Cara listening and watching youtube vids about the Melody Chapa case, while trying to do her own investigation. 

Yeah, info dump. I won’t say it wasn’t interesting, but given how part 2 put all this in context, I was disappointed.

So all these new characters get their own POVs, delving into the Melody Chapa case, to try and find out what happened to Cara — even Bonnie Juno’s assistant who I could care less about, whose name I can’t remember and who I have no idea why I was listening to how she lost a boyfriend because of her job. I just don’t care. Why should I care?

Patrick, the husband from hell, doesn’t even get a POV. And if anything, given the blurb’s focus on Cara I expected something from him. 

By the end, there’s something else I couldn’t figure out: why set this in a spa of all things? It’s automatically restrictive, because what really is Cara going to investigate? The internet? Yeah, she’s got that covered in Part 1, the Info-dump. There are no suspects because they’re all hiding from her and avoiding her, so what now? She gets kidnapped and gets more info dump information from her kidnapper. Then the cops come on board, and do their own investigation online and make connections they didn’t before because they actually have the bigger picture and can make the connections they need.

I will always maintain there is actually a great plot here, but man, it was not enough to save the other problems I had with this book. 

7 Comments

  • Oh no! The plot does sound so intriguing! I can’t stand whiny characters, so I am sure that I would have issues with this one, too. I hope that you love the next book you read! 😉

  • Yikes, what a disappointing book. Almost every mystery I’ve tried to read lately has been problemmatic, but man they sound like prize-winning books compared to this one, which just sounds like a hot mess on so many levels. I appreciate your review though. You definitely hit on all of the reasons why I’m pretty sure this book wouldn’t be a good fit for me.

  • Greg says:

    It does sound like a great plot! Bummer the rest is kind of a mess. I could get behind the mystery of the Chapa girl but I think part 2 would lose me too, seems like too many things mashed together and not executed very well.

  • Aww, too bad. Hope your next read would be awesome Verushka 🙂

  • Oh gosh. This sounds pretty jumbled…. I hate it when a book has such a good premise but just wasn’t executed well! I always wish I could have read the same story but in the hands of another, more experienced maybe?, author.

  • Boo for characters who grow out of whiny, neurotic behaviours and then slide right back into them at the first sign of trouble. Sigh. This really does sound like an incredible mystery, but there’s no way I could handle the mess of everything else!

  • Ah, it’s always such a shame when you really like a plot but the execution just falls flat. I would probably rather a less than stellar plot with an amazing execution but execution can mean the difference between liking and disliking a book!

    I gotta say I really don’t like random POVs in books. I honestly don’t care about someone that I get ONE single POV chapter from, who plays no real integral part to the story, and who I have no emotional connection with. I feel like these are sometimes added to give the reader info that the main character doesn’t have, just so we aren’t bumbling along without knowing what’s going on. At least that’s how it feels sometimes.

    Sorry this wasn’t a good one for you! I hope your next read is amazing 🙂

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