Well, I should know better than to trust amazon reviews. May Day by Jess Lourey has a nearly five-star rating on amazon, and I neglected to check LibraryThing's reviews before getting a copy. My only consolation is that I didn't pay full trade-paperback price--I found a used copy (along with two other new mysteries) with reasonable shipping. After I finished May Day, I picked up one of the other two books I'd gotten at the same time--same publisher. Both of those have good LibraryThing reviews, though I decided to go back to my Joan Hess rather than another new mystery right away.
I almost didn't finish May Day. By 50 pages in, I had about had it, but I couldn't believe it would stay that bad. Ha! I wish I'd tossed it aside and picked up something else. Where to start? First, there's the format--5 pages about Mira finding the body, followed by a 45-page flashback to tell us in excruciating detail how Mira ended up in Battle Lake, Minnesota (I could summarize it in two sentences--it's just not that interesting). There's no real explanation for why Mira decides to investigate, except she's assigned an article (she writes part-time for the newspaper) partway through her investigation. She's not likable, or very interesting, and neither are the cardboard characters surrounding her. The crazy guy with the scary house part reminded me of Ace Ventura's "Laces OUT!" except Ace Ventura was funny. The Minnesota girl with the Southern accent was annoying, the plotline with the old people bizarre and unbelievable, and the most interesting part (the Indian sacred site) was shunted to the side. I figured out who killed the guy pretty quickly due to some obvious foreshadowing.
Some things, like a paragraph-long description of the police chief applying Carmex to his lips, were overblown and silly. So many pages I marked as having ridiculous prose: (after Mira walks into a bar) "The smell of GPC cigarettes, aged beer, and something that would make good mushroom fodder crept under my pants and stroked my thighs." What in the world is that supposed to mean? Who has a smell stroke their thighs? Bizarre. About her boss: "He was a tall thick man with eyes green and busy like bottle flies on the dark meat of his face." Yuck! Is his face rotting? Upon entering a creepy house: "I felt narrow sheets of ice slip between my skin and muscles"--again, what??? I could keep doing this all day, but I won't spend any more time on this book. Off to the yard sale box it goes, maybe with a warning label.