Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cracked to Death (A Webb's Glass Shop Mystery)

Author:  Cheryl Hollon
Genre:  Mystery

Paperback, Ebook
ISBN #:  9781617737640
Kensington Publishing
320 Pages
$7.99, $5.99 Amazon
June 28, 2016

Five Stars

When a treasure hunts leads to deadly plunder, it's up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer...

It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat -- a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake.  Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane...

 Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest.  But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag.  With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through uncharted territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death...


Treasure hunting in Florida doesn't always end the way it should...

Savannah Webb has finally opened Webb's Glass Studio, where advanced students can create their works of art.  In her original Webb's Glass Shop, she is still conducting classes for beginners, and her friend Amanda Blake is all set to teach the first class.  Even though Amanda is eager, she's nervous and asks for Savannah to stay for a time until she feels confident.  Even though Savannah agrees, she's sure Amanda will be fine.  When almost all the students have arrived, one latecomer, Martin Lane, arrives with an extra - two old cobalt blue bottles, and asks for help in determining the age, and if they are worth anything.

The next day, a couple out walking their dog stumble across the body of a dead diver, who also happens to have the fragments of another cobalt blue bottle in his dive bag.  Homicide Detective Parker takes the fragments to Savannah and asks her if she can determine anything about the bottle.  After putting two and two together, Savannah realizes the diver is none other than Martin.

Once it is also determined that Martin's death was a homicide, the next question is who is the killer, and why anyone would want him dead.  She's not getting any help from Captain Collins, who was a friend of his, nor from his ex-girlfriend, Vicki.  One would go so far as to say that she's even being warned away from asking any questions at all.

But something else is in the works, and even Savannah couldn't have guessed this:  Amanda is slowly becoming the prime suspect in Martin's death, even though she swears she had nothing to do with it.  So this leaves Savannah and her 'crew' - Edward, her neighboring pub owner and maybe-could be-boyfriend, and Jacob, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome and an uncanny ability to decipher things - to help her clear Amanda and find out who the true murderer is.

I really enjoyed this book, the third in the series (following Pane and Suffering and Shards of Murder).  It is filled with a cast of characters who have become fast friends in a short amount of time.  One can't help but like them, quirks and all.  It's also fun to watch Savannah's growing fondness for Edward, and listening to her inner voice give us her  clues to the type of boyfriend he'd be if she decides to move forward with the relationship (along with other things she's thinking about at any given time).

When the killer is finally revealed, it happens rather quickly but all makes sense.  Yet it is the fact of what seems to be finding more about the bottles - which are rumored to be part of Gaspar the Pirate's treasure - and how it becomes the key to the murder - that holds this mystery together, and shows us that true friends will always believe in you, even though you may disappoint them sometimes.  But it also brings their friendship to new levels, and brings Savannah closer to the person she was meant to be.  Highly recommended.

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