I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I'd heard some contradictory thoughts about this book from my book buddies online, so I wasn't as excited to read it when I received it in the mail as I was when I ordered it. But Krazy Kiwi wrote an excellent review of it the other day - enough to intrigue me without giving anything away - and I moved it up the list so I could find out for myself.
I really enjoyed this one! I thought it was an excellent first book for a new series. Well-written with a curious and likeable cast of characters. Even the twin boys and I'm not normally a fan of kids in my murder mysteries. I had some difficulty keeping a couple of the characters straight in my head: Mr. Sinclair and Mr. Sterling, both members of the staff, have names that are too similar. I thought the inclusion of book references was well-balanced and not at all over done; I could discover a few new authors of all genres as this series goes on.
Kudos to the publisher for not giving away what is going to make this series interesting by blurting it out or hinting at it in the cover synopsis/story summary. I'm not going to give it away here either; it was fun discovering it as I read and I don't want to ruin that for anyone else. But it's clever and feels fresh in the cozy arena. I've often imagined the same scenario myself and it was great fun to read the author's version of the same vision. It also, as Krazy Kiwi mentioned, gives the series a plausible reason for repeated crimes and the MC a plausible reason to solve them.
First books in a mystery series always benefit from being first books: the characters are all new to the reader so it's not painfully obvious when a throw-away character that's likely the murderer has been introduced. I think this book is not an exception; looking back on my reading, the ultimate culprit and their interactions with the MC might have stood out more in a book with more established characters. But maybe not. Either way, I didn't see the solution to the crime until the MC did and it was an entertaining puzzle. No TSTL moments or heroine-in-peril situations and I found that refreshing.
I didn't award the 5th star for a couple of reasons. The first being that the characters, although likeable, don't feel very fleshed out to me. But the author has a track record in previous series' of developing her characters wonderfully over time, so I don't think this is going to be a problem. The second reason: She's setting up a love triangle. Gah!!!
Overall, I'm quite pleased with this first and I'm looking forward to the next book. This has the potential to be both a really fun series with a cool premise and a well-written collection of mysteries. Stupid love triangle or not.