Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Out of the Dying Pan (A Deep Fried Mystery #2)

Author:  Linda Reilly
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9780425274149
Berkley Publishing
304 Pages
$7.99; $7.99 Amazon
March 1, 2016
Five Stars

For Talia Marby, the sweet smell of success is a lot like the pungent aroma of fried fish and vinegar.  Her new business, Fry Me a Sliver, is rapidly expanding beyond fish and chips to become one of the best eateries in the Berkshires.  But the nasty owner of a neighboring boutique is making a stink, baiting Talia in a very public fight at a community center fundraiser and nursing an inexplicable grudge.

When the boutique owner is found strangled with Talia's scarf knotted around her neck, our favorite fish fryer finds herself in hot oil.  Needing to clear her name, and fast, Talia's investigation soon yields some shocking surprises as well as a sizzling suspicion: someone had good reason to want the victim dead - and it's frying Talia's nerves...

********

Talia Marby has a new business in the Berkshires, Fry Me a Sliver.   She's finally getting a new sign - even if it is on back order - and trying out new deep-fried recipes.  One day she notices a new vintage clothing store has opened, and on the spur of the moment she decides to stop in and welcome them.  She introduces herself to the clerk Kelsey, who seems pleasant enough.  But a few seconds later a striking redhead emerges from the back room who ignores her and snaps at Kelsey.  Talia leaves in a hurry, stunned by the rebuff from a woman she'd never met.

Only later does Talia realize she knew Ria - known then as Orianna Butterworth - as a child, for it seems Ria stole a rabbit from Talia's best friend's younger brother, and Talia discovered it.  It seems Ria has held this grudge for thirty years (!).  So when Ria is found dead later that week - with Talia's Nana's scarf tied around her neck, Talia appears to be the main suspect in the murder.

Even though neither of Talia's employees believe she's guilty - there's Lucas Bartolini, who rides a skateboard to work, is clumsy but nevertheless respectful and loyal; and Martha Hoelscher, who's older, grumpy, and won't talk about her past - it doesn't help her that the police keep interviewing her, hoping she'll trip up and incriminate herself.

Yet Talia knows she didn't commit the murder, but who did?  There is no shortage of suspects, and although there are many people with grudges against Ria, it doesn't seem as if there are any clear winners in who wanted her dead, and that in itself is different.  It was for this fact that I especially liked the book - plenty in the running, with no one in the lead.

Ms. Reilly weaves a wonderful story, with the words flowing off the page as easily as water running down a stream.  The characters are interesting and well-rounded, and even Talia, who appears as capable as they come, has her own insecurities to deal with, which she does so admirably.

The story moved along at a lively pace, and there were enough twists and turns to the story to keep me reading it in one sitting.  With the wonderful characters, Talia's cat Bojangles (I'm a sucker for cats), and the colorful setting in the Berkshires, how can one not like this book?  

Although I had a few reservations about reading this book - I'm not enthusiastic about fried food - I was nevertheless surprised at how much I relished it.  It was quite a fun read, and I liked the fact that the killer wasn't apparent within the first pages, as can happen with mysteries (and I read them a lot).  When we finally do find out the killer, it comes as a complete surprise, and quite unexpected.

This is the second book in the series, the first being Fillet of Murder.  However, this can be read as a stand alone, so no worries there.  For myself, I'm greatly anticipating the next book.  Highly recommended.



More on Linda Reilly's books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/r/linda-reilly/                                                                                       

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