Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What I Read in July 2015 Part VI

What I Read in July 2015 Part VI ...

Sink Trap (A Georgiana Neverall Mystery #1)Sink Trap (A Georgiana Neverall Mystery #1) --cozy mystery

Georgiana Neverall left her fast-paced corporate world in San Francisco to return to her hometown of Pine Ridge, Oregon with her two Airedale Terriers. She has taken up plumbing, wasting her degree from CalTech according to her mother, a high-powered real-estate mogul. Georgie loves her job and is determined to prove herself in a man's world. When she finds an old broach in a sink in the home of the town's former librarian, she starts asking questions. She concludes Miss Tepper would never have home without her beloved broach. Everyone remains convinced that Martha Tepper left town to retire to Arizona but Georgie has a feeling Miss Tepper left permanently and not of her own accord. When mishaps occur at work, Georgie thinks the job is jinxed - or is someone trying to sabotage the job? Could that person be the killer? Meanwhile, her high school flame is interested in a relationship with Georgie that she's not ready to pass Go on and her mother appears to have moved on since Mr. Neverall's death three years ago.

This book is an OK mystery. The mystery kept me interested but the list of suspects is pretty short so it's not hard to figure out whodunnit. I wasn't at all surprised. The story follows the usual pattern with the heroine poking around, asking questions, ignoring warning signs and confronting a possible murderer alone. The writing style isn't bad - average to just above.

The characters are not very compelling. I admire Georgie for sticking it out in a man's world and even doing such a horrible job. Yuck! I don't know why she's so secretive and closed off with her best friend. Not trusting Wade I can see but Sue is her closest friend and deserves to be trusted. I love her dogs but they're reduced to minor characters. I expected them to be more central to the mystery since one is on the cover.

My favorite character is Sue. She's a dog lover and owns a grooming salon. She's lively and fun to be around. I'd like her for a friend. Paula is also a good character. She's a librarian and a devoted wife and mother. Barry is a very sweet husband and a great boss. I like that he respects Georgie and loves her like a sister. Georgie's mom, Sandra, is a bit much to handle, at least at first. She seems like a nasty person but she has some hidden depths and I actually started to like her towards the end. Her "friend" Gregory seems smarmy and like Georgie I wouldn't trust him. I would definitely expect him to commit murder for real estate. Did he? Wade is a super boring boyfriend. I don't like how he's so conscious of his public image and I would fully expect him to be a murderer. Is he? The attorneys, The Gladstones, are also skeevy, suspicious characters though I did NOT like Georgie's negative comments about Rachel's unshaven legs. That was TOTALLY uncalled for, especially from another woman. Even so, I didn't like them very much and was convinced they could commit murder or one of them could have done it.

A Sheetcake Named Desire (A Piece of Cake Mystery, #1)Sheetcake Named Desire (A Piece of Cake Mystery #1) by Jacklyn Brady-- Cozy Mystery

Pastry Chef Rita Lucero is tired of her husband Philippe Reinier's ignoring her divorce papers. She's spent the last two years trying to get over him while working in her uncle's Mexican restaurant in New Mexico. Now she's in New Orleans to present the papers to her ex in person. She gets the brush off from his faithful manager Edie but is prepared to wait. When an employee comes rushing in with the news that Philippe and his friend Ox are going at it on the loading dock, Rita is concerned. Last she knew, the two were old pals who loved each other like brothers. When she searches for Philippe, she discovers Ox on the ground with a bloody head and finally, Philippe with a giant knife stuck through his chest. As far as the NOPD are concerned, Rita is suspect #1 since she inherits everything. His flighty girlfriend Quinn may have something to say about that but his mother, Miss Frankie, prefers Rita and asks Rita's help in making final arrangements AND finding out who killed her son. Rita is certain it wasn't Ox but he may know who did it. There's also the matter of who sabotaged the bakery. Was the person the same as the killer? Does rival Dimitri Wolff have anything to do with one crime or the other? Rita is determined to find out.

This book is slightly above average for a cozy mystery, though it's long. The descriptions of New Orleans from the weather to the food and the music are incredible. I felt like I was right there. The author captured the flavor of New Orleans very well. The writing style is above average but not terribly sophisticated. The descriptions are the best part. The mystery is so engaging I couldn't put it down. I never ever guessed whodunnit. In fact, I think the author made a huge mistake making it that person. The timeline seems wrong to me. How could the murder happen that fast? That person did cross my mind but I forgot my suspicions early on and focused on someone else and then someone else again.

The characters seem like they could be well drawn and they might evolve over time but are somewhat flat here. There's the goth girl, the bubbly chubby girl, the gold digger, the evil rival, etc. etc. Rita is a good character. She's a tough cookie because she was orphaned at a young age and raised by her aunt and uncle out of a sense of duty. She feels inadequate among the old-money New Orleanians and still has insecurities from her past. It's obvious she loves Philippe still and hasn't yet moved on. She's caring towards her mother-in-law and kind but firm with the staff.

I'm not sure I like the sound of Philippe. The reports of him are so contrary and his personal life plot wasn't completely resolved. Why would he fall for a bimbo like Quinn when all his friends and even his own mother couldn't stand her? Why would he risk alienating his staff and his family? Why does she bring out the worst in him? Was he trying to go for the opposite of Rita or did their relationship not work out because he wanted an adoring trophy wife? I wish there had been some answers to those questions but we are left to speculate since the man is dead and can't speak for himself.

My favorite character was Miss Frankie. She epitomizes that old world southern lady with a backbone of steel and a frosty glint in her eye. Even though her exterior seems tough, she's hurting inside and Rita is familiar and comfortable for her. The scene in the funeral parlor is hilarious!

I don't really feel compelled to read more of this series, but I did enjoy this one and I might read another soon.

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