Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery #3
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Challenges: NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
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Blurb from goodreads:
Bookstore café owner Krissy Hancock would rather spend Halloween serving pumpkin goodies than wearing costumes with Pine Hills’ wealthiest at Yarborough mansion, especially when the soiree shapes up to be more trick than treat . . .
As if a run-in with an old flame and a failed marriage proposal weren’t enough to horrify Krissy for one night, a woman is found strangled to death in a room filled with ominous jack-o’-lanterns. All signs suggest a crime of passion—but when the hostess’s jewelry disappears, malevolent intentions seem way more likely . . .
With the estate on lockdown and a killer roaming the halls, Krissy must help Officer Paul Dalton investigate each nook, cranny, and guest for answers—while also confronting a few demons of her own. Someone has lots of skeletons in the closet, and Krissy better tread lightly to expose them .
Well, the title is a complete lie, totally fraudulent advertising. Not one death had anything to do with pumpkin spice. Hell, pumpkin spice barely played a role in the story. Huge disappointment, on several levels. I mean, the title is what caught my attention to begin with and then the cover; the blurb was almost irrelevant. I am actually, and quite severely, allergic to many spices including the ones that make up pumpkin spice. It's a running joke among my friends and co-workers that they can easily kill me off with spices, especially at this time of year. So when I saw the title, of course it grabbed my attention. But even if I weren't allergic to spices, the title would still be misleading, since as I mentioned, pumpkin spice plays no part n any deaths and is pretty much irrelevant to the story. Waste of a good title.
Our heroine Krissy is impulsive, nosy, and a buttinsky. I wanted to like her and I did like some things about her. I could relate to her insecurities, even though they got tiresome; she seems like a good friend; she loves books; and she's determined, which is both a positive and negative trait. But her negative traits tended, for me anyway, to outweigh her positives.
I huffed and crossed my arms over my chest. I didn't like listening to reason, even when it made perfect sense. Maybe that was why I was always getting myself into trouble....Who was I ever to listen? I bolted after him, feeling only mildly guilty for ignoring his orders yet again.
Now sure, many of us have times when we don't listen to sense or reason, but she ignores both consistently throughout the story and it got tiring. Krissy has no valid reason for being part of the police investigation; her involvement is spurious and I highly doubt that the police would have actually invited her help. The police are portrayed as mildly competent; Krissy finds most of the clues and even questions suspects. I had a hard time buying into it.
Then there's a love triangle; that needs to be resolved ASAP. They're bad enough in romance novels. I don't want them contaminating my mysteries. Yeah, not a fan of the love triangle trope. Her current boyfriend, Will, is almost too perfect to be true: he has no problem being ignored by her at the party they attend; thinks it's cute and wonderful that she gets involved in police investigations; and thinks she's beautiful even when she doesn't. Honestly, the character development left a lot to be desired. Oh and there's the now-cliched stalker ex, yawn.
The mystery itself was well-done. There were lots of red herrings sprinkled among genuine clues and the killer's identity was surprising but not when all of the pieces came together. There were several good suspects and a few obvious ones; I kept changing my mind on who the killer was. The set-up of having all of the suspects trapped by bad weather and the police force unable to quickly arrive should have made for high tension but it was only moderately tense though it did provide the pretense for Krissy getting involved. The mystery, and the hope that the title event would actually happen, kept me reading. I have another book by this author in this series in my TBR pile and I'm torn about reading it now. I wasn't impressed with the overall writing in this story but the mystery did keep me guessing.