This week we are featuring three mystery novels from Henery Press, a small press KRL recently discovered. Check out these reviews & maybe you will discover some great new mysteries to enjoy just like we did. Details on how to win a copy of all 3 books at the end of this post. Reviews are of Last Diner Standing: A Rose Strickland Mystery by Terri L. Austin, Still Life in Brunswick Stew: A Cherry Tucker Mystery By Larissa Reinhart, and Double Whammy: A Davis Way Mystery By Gretchen Archer.
Last Diner Standing: A Rose Strickland Mystery By Terri L. Austin
Roselyn “Rose” Strickland knows that no phone call at 3a.m. ever brings good news. However, even she was not prepared for the news that her study partner, Janelle Johnson, was in jail for attempting to kill her ex-husband and was calling to ask Rose to get a good lawyer–and cigarettes to trade with Janelle’s jail mates!
While Rosé is a former rich girl turned diner waitress and long-term college student, her previous experiences with the law put her in contact with her former schoolmate and current high-price attorney, Dane Harker. However, his high fees and firm’s pressure to make a deal force Rose to investigate on her own if she wants to free Janelle in time for her to spend Christmas with her two children, one of whom is a biter.
Luckily, Rose has the help of her best friend and fellow waitress Roxy Block, an anime fan with a hankering for Janelle’s brother and Axton Fuller Graystone, college IT specialist and roomie of a house of potheads. Rose soon learns that Janelle’s ex, AKA “Asshat,” was involved in off-the- books auto mechanic work, chop shops, and strippers–lots of strippers. So there’s no lack of suspects who include jealous dancers, enraged husbands, and IOU’d acquaintances.
As Rose attempts to fit in her investigation with her morning shifts at Ma’s Diner new breakfast service, competition from Rudy’s Roundup Restaurant threatens whatever sanity remains, as Ma Ferguson insists on adding a chicken lunch service that will either bankrupt them or drive them into the grave from exhaustion. The additional discovery of evidence that a hit was placed on Thomas Maxwell Sullivan, the sexy but extremely dangerous crime lord, tests Rose’s loyalties and her priorities.
What elevates this mystery from being just a comical caper novel is that the author creates well-rounded characters with backgrounds which explain their eccentricities, and prevents them from becoming over-the-top comic relief caricatures. Rose is still suffering from the trauma of having killed someone who was a psychotic stalker, and also must contend with her mother’s disapproval and continual disappointment in her daughter’s failure to live up to her potential.
At times it seems that Rose’s friends place an unfair amount of pressure upon her to investigate, yet Rose has made her friends her family and never asks for help for herself. Her stubborn independence, as she attempts to assume control over everything only makes her surprisingly vulnerable as she eventually finds a point where her facade must crack.
While this is an undeniably hilarious and entertaining novel, it always retains at its core an affection for its characters and a sentimental tone. Well-written with a complicated plot and very engaging characters, this second Rose Strickland proves to be entertaining and moving without ever becoming an absurd parody. [Read more...]