I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
Where to start with this book review? I'm a fan of this series, but I generally don't like 'away' books. I get attached to the hometown cast of characters; I get a picture in my head of the hometown/setting. Moving my protagonist away from all that messes up my head and forces me to concentrate harder than I'd normally have to. Not to mention learning a whole cast of characters and keeping them straight.
So I was not as excited about this book as previous ones; instead of Wisconsin, it takes place in South Florida at a mystery writers 101 conference. Well, ok, I'm from South Florida, so the new setting isn't that big of a stretch. And I like the Everglades. So I picked up the book last night and dove in. I fell asleep after the first chapter, so really, I read this whole book today.
The first thing I noticed was the wholly coincidental timing of my reading this book during what I'll refer to as the "GoodReads Censorship Debacle", or the GCD. I say this because a good portion of the first 1/3 to 1/2 of the book focusses on an online reviewer who is absolutely ruthless in his dissection of books (so of course he is hated/feared) and discusses self-published authors and the self-entitlement that some of them exhibit. I was chuckling quite a bit over this bit of kismet.
The murder itself. Inspired. Seriously. I so want to discuss the method of discovery, but I won't. Because anyone slightly interested in reading this book should get to it honestly. I read a LOT of cozy mysteries, and Ms. Balzo should win some recognition for most creative method of body discovery/disposal. This alone is what got her the 1/2 star in my 4.5 star rating. (It only lost that last half star because there were a ton of new characters and I had a devil of a time keeping them straight in my head. Even with the alliterative device the author used - which was very clever, - I still never had a really firm picture in my head of most of the cast.) The murderer was admirably hidden in a very well crafted plot and I had not the slightest idea who the culprit was until Maggy did.
The very, very end of the book was a tiny bit abrupt, but I'll just imagine that Jake and Maggy enjoyed the rest of the holiday and I'll look forward with eager anticipation to the next book in the series.