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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.

Buried Leads (A Headlines in High Heels Mystery #2)

Buried Leads - LynDee Walker

I've never much paid attention to who publishes the books I read, but since I've first started reading books by Henery Press, I've been so impressed with the quality of the writing and editing that I've started looking for new releases and authors coming out of their "Hen House".


I classify this series as a cozy - but it isn't.  I don't quite know how to classify it any other way.  What makes it cozy:  an amateur sleuth, a lack of graphic sex and/or violence.  What makes it not-a-cozy: this is a very urban setting and feel, profanity is used well and in context, and there's a depth to the crimes that surpass almost all cozy mysteries.  These plots are intricate and complex, as are the motivations of all the characters involved.   There are layers - like an onion, only not smelly and without that annoying papery layer in-between the layers. 


Buried Leads is the second book featuring Nichelle, a journalist in Richmond, VA whose beat is cops and courtrooms.  She dreams of working for the Washington Post, on their political beat, and with ambition and a healthy work ethic, believes the way to get there is by writing the best cops and courtroom stories on a nationwide level.


I like Nichelle.  She has a thing for shoes I don't understand, but it's more subtle in this book than the first one, and I like her anyway.  She's very smart, capable, independent and on-the-ball.  Generally speaking, I have zero interest in anything journalism related and I resisted reading this series initially because of the journalist angle.  But Nichelle makes the profession sound interesting and rewarding even to me.


Nichelle isn't in a relationship, but there are two men in her life.  Kyle - her long ago ex, now an ATF agent just recently assigned to the Richmond office.  He's interested in reconciliation and she sort of is and sort of isn't.  She really likes who she is when she isn't someone's girlfriend.  Then there's Joey.  He's the dark and dangerous man with secrets - literally.  He's mafia, and he appears in Nichelle's life in both the most appropriate and inappropriate times.  


Both men sound hotter than sin (of course!  who wants a dull-sounding love interest?) and normally I'd be screaming "NO!  Not another love triangle!" and running away so fast I'd leave pages flapping in the breeze.  But two things stand out as different for me:  First, both of these guys were introduced at the same time.  I think this makes a big difference; I didn't get attached to one only to have the other come in to disrupt the apple cart.  Second, Joey is written to be unobtainable; he brings a lot of heat and a level of rule-breaking to the story without actually ever being a serious contender for HEA.  I reserve the right to change my mind with future books, but so far, this character dynamic is working for me.


There's a nemesis, because I suppose that nowadays every cozy series Must Have One!  Her name is Shelby and she makes no secret of wanting Nichelle's job or her willingness to sleep her way towards getting it.  Fortunately, we don't see much of her and there's only one or two scenes where we get to experience her true nastiness.  (I'm not a fan of the whole nemesis thing - is it obvious?)


The plot, as I mentioned above, is layered and more intricate that your bog-standard cozy.  Nichelle is following up on a man's body found out in the woods and discovers that he's a lawyer for a lobbying firm with ties to tobacco.  Intrigued at the political possibilities, she starts digging into the story and starts stumbling into all sorts of secrets.  I'll not say more than that, because I don't want to give away the story or the twists and turns it takes.  I'll just say that I had a great time reading this plot as more and more information and discoveries unfolded.  I never saw the ending coming and the killer was never on my radar.


A word about the killer:  if your enjoyment in reading a mystery is at all dependent on all of the suspects being obvious 'players' in the drama/plot, then this book probably isn't for you.  This isn't one of those stories the author designs so you have a better than equal chance of figuring out 'whodunnit'.

(show spoiler)


I had a great time reading this book and I was sorry when it ended.  I'm looking forward to her third book, due out in the spring of '14, and Nichelle's next big story.