I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
With her sort-of boyfriend Marcus calling it quits and her ex-boyfriend Andrew showing up out of the blue, Kathleen has more than enough drama to deal with. Then a local theatre festival relocates to Mayville Heights. When the director, Hugh Davis, is found shot to death, he leaves behind evidence of blackmail and fraud, as well as an ensemble of suspects.
I'm starting to really like Sofie Kelly's writing more and more with each book. She has a way of going against this reader's expectations in really delightful ways.
For example, this book has Kathleen's ex-boyfriend coming to town. Usually when this happens we see lots of angst, lots of "should I?/shouldn't I?" and when I read the first chapter, I groaned in anticipation of it. It's a very worn out plot device. But Ms. Kelly goes a different route and in the process stays true to the character of Kathleen.
Next example, Kathleen's mom comes into town. Again, most authors use this device for tried and worn out story lines: mother-daughter bonding/sleuthing, or resolution of old mother/daughter conflicts. Nope. Not this time. Mom is delightful but she's there as a secondary character and not much else.
Kathleen's been dancing around a romance with police detective Marcus since the beginning of the series but her involvement in each mystery has become an escalating source of conflict. The author uses this book to not only resolve the conflict, but to do so in a way that turns the tables, and once again, she doesn't use the worn out "the love of my life is in jeopardy, I must rush to save him" story device.
All in all, this book (this series) is full of grounded, rational-thinking but unique individuals that are likeable. The only oddballs here are Hercules and Owen, Kathleen's cats. The cats with magical powers and mischievous personalities. It goes without saying the cats steal whatever scene they're in and I love the scenes with Owen and Fred the Funky Chicken. Don't ask me why, but I just laugh every time.
The murder plot was good. If I'm nit-picky, there could have been closer attention paid to some smaller details that would have made for a richer puzzle, but the puzzle we do have isn't a bad one. I suspect that had I not been so caught up in the characters' stories, I'd have found the killer obvious; I do remember upon their introduction thinking "hmm..odd man out" (gender neutral usage of course - no spoilers here), but then sinking back into the story and sort of forgetting about it.
The ending was a bit high on drama, but then most of them are. I can't have every single stereotype busted in one book, I'd probably start hyperventilating in my joy. I genuinely look forward to the next book and more Hercules and Owen (and Fred the Funky Chicken).