After Greg Left last night, I’d thought about his warning to stay out of the investigation this time. His words echoed in my head: “Jill, you don’t have to be involved with every dead body that washes up in South Cove”.
Title: If The Shoe Kills
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp, November 10, 2014
Format/Source: eBook provided from publisher via Netgalley*
ISBN: 9781601833068 (Print) 9781601832405 (eBook)
The holiday season is almost here, and shop owners in the small tourist town of South Cove, California are gearing up for the influx of holiday shoppers. But for Jill Gardner, the season’s not off to the best start. Between getting her own shop ready for the holidays and organizing a Thanksgiving dinner, she has no time to spare. Somehow, she finds herself roped into serving as the liaison between local businesses and the participants of a welfare-to-work program, Work Today. A few of the shop owners, afraid the participants won’t be trustworthy, are hesitant to sign up as host businesses. Luckily, Jill is able to alleviate their fears. Also lucky is that the participants turn out to be more charming and dedicated than anyone expected. However, the program’s leader, Ted Hendricks, is a nothing but a bully with a handsome face and a short fuse. After a couple of confrontations, Jill is determined to avoid him as much as possible. That is, until she walks by Ted’s car and sees his dead body in the front seat.
The initial conclusion is suicide, but Jill doesn’t buy the theory that a self-centered hot-head like Ted killed himself. When she’s proven right, she receives a firm warning from her boyfriend, Greg (also the town’s detective), to keep her nose out of the investigation. Jill swears to be good, but can’t help that her curious nature keeps providing her with more clues to follow. And if Detective Greg won’t follow-up on them, she intends to do it herself. Someone’s watching her, though; someone that doesn’t like Jill snooping around Ted’s case. If she isn’t careful, there might be one less person at Jill’s Thanksgiving dinner: the host.
YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
- The Coastal Village of South Cove – Main street is dotted with mom and pop shops. Neighbors are either helping out other neighbors or arguing with them. Everyone eats at the one restaurant in town (Diamond Lille’s, a full service diner with food that sounds scrumptious). Everyone gossips about everyone else. Not all of South Cove’s residents are likable – a couple of them had me cringing anytime they appeared – but they all are colorful and fueled by realistic motivations.
- Coffee, Books, and More – The name might not be especially creative, but it’s straightforward in telling you what Jill’s shop has to offer: coffee, books, and more. Nestled in the heart of Main street, the shop is in the perfect position to lure hungry tourists in for a quick snack. Locals, too, for that matter. With the warm scent of chocolate and coffee mingling together, comfy reading chairs, and rows of books to peruse, it seems like the perfect place for a person to escape to when they need a break from real life.
- The Side Plots –These were loads of fun. Watching Jill and Aunt Jackie plan and market the holiday book drive made me wish I could participate, too. The fallout from the mayor’s wife usurping the role of chair for the Holiday Festival from long-time coordinator, Darla, was very satisfying. I didn’t care much about the drama in Aunt Jackie’s love life, so that one fell a little flat. The return of one of South Cove’s more ambitious former residents was intriguing, though. While the character was grating, the arrival did stir up the characters and add some unexpected excitement to the mix.
- The Food – The food mentioned in the book sounds so good. Cahoon doesn’t even go into great detail describing the food, but it’s enough to have you salivating for your own picnic basket of Lille’s fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, and a chocolate silk pie from Sadie’s. Or maybe a pumpkin latte and one of the delectable treats from the display case at Coffee, Books, and More?
YOU MIGHT NOT ENJOY:
- The Food – Yes, the food all sounds tasty. Maybe too tasty. A sudden craving for a slice of Chocolate Dream pie right before bed is sometimes enough to either keep you up all night or have you running to the kitchen to find a replacement – usually, one that doesn’t taste nearly as good as the food you are imagining. Probably better to not read this book on an empty stomach. If you do, make sure you have a snack nearby.
- The Occasional Repetitiveness – Jill reads. A lot. And runs with her dog, Emma, at the beach. A lot. I think these bits were included to let us into Jill’s life, which is fine, but there were too many slice-of-life moments. I found myself skimming over some of these parts, and I’m not sure how much they contributed to moving the mystery along.
- Some of the Sleuthing – A couple of things I saw coming way before Jill did and, a few times, she happened to stumble onto the answers rather than figure them out on her own. While the mystery is good, it could be more tightly woven. I was absorbed in finding out who killed Ted and why, but, once the answers were revealed, a few things didn’t add up for me.
- The Missing Clue – One key twist in the plot seemed to happen off stage. All of the sudden, the characters were discussing a clue that I didn’t remember being discovered. I searched back through the book, but could not find where the clue had been introduced. It was almost like that scene had been accidently edited out. Perhaps it was just a glitch with my copy. Whatever happened, the missing information did not derail the story. It was easy to figure out from the dialogue what was going on; I was just momentarily confused.
Yes, if you’re a fan of cozies. Readers who prefer mysteries with tons of action might feel that parts of the story move too slowly (but then, so does life in a small town like South Cove). There is also a good amount of romance, which not all mystery readers want. Overall, though, If The Shoe Kills is entertaining and I would be happy to visit Jill and the residents of South Cove again.
I haven’t read the other two books in this series, Guidebook to Murder and Mission to Murder. They’ve both been in my TBR pile for months now. Normally, I would have waited to read this one until I had completed the others. However, If the Shoe Fits seemed timely because the story takes place during the start of the holiday season, and we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving ourselves in a few weeks. There were a few references to events in the previous books that I may not have gotten, but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the book. If anything, I am more anxious to read the first two books now.
* I received a free copy of this eBook from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.