Dying for Data (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 2)

by Cassidy Salem

Synopsis

Adina Donati, a research assistant at a Washington, D.C., think-tank, has a penchant for becoming involved in murders. When her neighbor Elena’s boyfriend’s cousin is killed, Adina finds herself caught up in a tangle of immigration, gangs, money laundering, and kidnapping. Together with sometime beau police detective Jonathan Saks, Adina helps to solve a grisly crime.

Theme of the Book

Dying for Data: An Adina Donati Mystery is a mystery with a message. Adina herself is Jewish, a sometimes maligned minority, as is Detective Saks. The other characters are all immigrants, some legally and some illegally in the country. The story is definitely sympathetic to the plight of immigrants to the US, especially considering the current political landscape.

What I Liked About the Story

Although immigration and the varying opinions on the topic form a large part of the plot, the book never gets political and does not preach. The immigrants, Elena from Russia and Tony from El Salvador, are presented in a sympathetic way. Elena’s past and her path to US citizenship is clear while not much information is given about Tony, but both are characters who bring important elements to the book. Elena met her American husband on the internet – a very common way for people to meet these days. Tony was a student, in the US legally, who simply overstayed his visa. The author does not advocate for illegal entry, but examines the difficulties of undocumented immigrants in a way that may open some readers’ eyes.

Adina has the potential to be a very interesting character. She is obviously young, intelligent, and caring. I am interested to see where the author takes Adina and, I assume, Jonathan in further novels.

The setting of the novel is Washington, D.C., a city full of life and of fascinating places to visit. I was glad to see a novel set there that was not a political thriller. There is certainly more to Washington than politics.

The plot moves quickly and will keep readers interested from the beginning.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

Although the novel is well-written, the characters apart from Adina, Elena, and Jonathan, were not well enough developed for me to care much about them. Even the murder victim never appears in the book except as a corpse. We know a little about him from what the other characters say, but we never meet him as a person and so it is hard to develop any emotional reaction to his death. In fact, most of the characters seem like stock characters in a mystery: the amateur detective, the sexy policeman, the best friend, the faceless villains. I wish the author had spent more time developing the characters and their relationships to one another.

I have read reviews that describe Dying for Data: An Adina Donati Mystery as a ‘cozy’ mystery. It does not follow the usual conventions of a cozy but is not hard-boiled, either. The book seems to fall between the two subgenres, combining elements of each. Although the author has tried to soften parts of the book by bringing in Adina’s volunteer work with a dog rescue home, this doesn’t really work to make Adina more human.

Final Say

The plot and the characters of Dying for Data: An Adina Donati Mystery has great potential. With a bit more work on character development, this series can be a good one. At this point, the book was satisfactory, but actually left me wanting more.

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