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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Lowcountry Bombshell (A Liz Talbot Mystery #2)

Lowcountry Bombshell - Susan M. Boyer

Ms. Boyer is two for two.  I picked up the first book in this series, Lowcountry Boil as a Kindle freebie.  I generally never get around to reading those freebies; they're sort of like, for me, the way survivalists stock canned good in case of the apocalypse.  It seems I horde books away in case, I don't know, the world suddenly runs out of reading material?


Anyway, nothing in my TBR pile looked good that day, so I flipped open the kindle app and started reading.  I won't bore you with the details here - you can read the review for Lowcountry Boil elsewhere on my blog.  But it was an excellent read, 5 stars, and apparently everyone else thought so too, as it won the Agatha award for best first.


I immediately pre-ordered Lowcountry Bombshell, but delivered with the book was a sense of trepidation - what if it's not as good as the first one?  The plot involves a woman who appears to be Marilyn Monroe's doppleganger.  I never bought into the Marilyn mystique - what if this is really hokey??  Ms. Boyer ended the first book with Liz having to decide between two men;  what if she decides to drag it out into a massive love triangle?  I HATE love triangles!!!


So to the TBR pile the book went.  I read a few other books first and the book languished on The Pile for a few weeks.  Saturday night I finally felt ready to pick it up and be disappointed if it just couldn't hold up against the first one.


How happy was I to find that not only did Ms. Boyer *not* create a love triangle (that's resolved practically in the first chapter) but that she had created a lovely, twisted, almost-sort-of-creepy plot line involving this Marilyn lookalike?  Truly, I found the story fascinating from the word go.

The characters, if you've not read the first book, are appealing, real, three-dimensional people you'd like to run into at the diner if you were lucky enough to live on Stella Maris.  Stella Maris itself is well sketched out; Ms. Boyer doesn't map it out for you, but it's atmosphere is very well communicated in the writing.  (Much better than *I'm* communicating at the moment.)  I really like Nate and I love how self-assured Liz is. She doesn't take any crap from anyone and the men in her life are unable to control her, in spite of their most concerted efforts.  She's intelligent too - this is a woman who knows how to do her job and do it with grace and style.  I will admit though, the slight case of germaphobia is kinda weird.  She has a quirky family and her best friend is a ghost.  Or, more correctly, a guardian spirit.  She doesn't play a central role in this book, but she is a presence during important moments.


The plot - well as I mentioned before - a bit twisted.  Very well crafted, very well written.  Layers.  This plot has layers.  Cozy readers will recognize this is not standard equipment in all cozies.  The author led me around by my nose throughout the mystery - I followed the clues and had not the first idea of who the killer might be.  And when you find out - whoo boy.  Again, not your cozy standard.  Not too dark at all, but a step beyond the run-of-the-mill cozy mystery murderer.


For that reason and for a sex scene or two that ventures outside the strict cozy definition, I'll say this is not your mama's cozy.  If mild sex is offensive, if a murderer that's closer to cold-blooded than cozy is not for you, then you might not enjoy this book.  For everyone else - this is an excellent read.


N.B. - this would have been a 5-star read but there were quite a few editing errors, including a sentence that wasn't - it just ended abruptly at the word "and".  The few Henry Press books I've read to date have shown much higher quality editing than this, so I'm hoping it's a one-off instead of a sign of things to come.