Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fixin' to Die (A Kenni Lowry Mystery Book 1)

Author:  Tonya Kappes
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #: 9781635110401; 9781635110371
Henery Press
224 Pages
$31.95; $14.40; $2.99 Amazon
June 14, 2016

Five Stars

Kenni Lowry likes to think the zero crime rate in Cottonwood, Kentucky is due to her being sheriff, but she quickly discovers the ghost of her grandfather, the town's previous sheriff, has been scaring off any would-be criminals since she was elected.  When the town's most beloved doctor is found murdered on the very same day as a jewelry store robbery, and a mysterious symbol ties the crime scenes together, Kenni must satisfy her hankerin' for justice by nabbing the culprits.  With the help of her poppa, a lone deputy, and an annoyingly cute, too-big-for-his-britches State Reserve officer, Kenni must solve both cases and prove to the whole town, and herself, that she's worth her salt before time runs out.

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Kendrick 'Kenni' Lowry is the sheriff of small town Cottonwood, Kentucky, and has been so for the past two years...the past two quiet, peaceful years - but that's about to end.  One early morning she gets a call on her radio that Doctor Ronald Walton has been found dead in his home.  Kenni is stunned; this is the doctor that delivered her and served the town loyally.  But when she arrives, she's not prepared for seeing her first dead body - especially this one.  Doctor Walton has been killed in a most brutal way, and she knows she's going to need help in solving the murder, so she calls the Kentucky State Reserves for help, and they send her one Finn Vincent, who shows up in an out-of-place suit and by-the-book look.

Even though she also has the help of her jailer, Wyatt Granger, it doesn't seem enough when there is also a break-in at White's Jewelry.  When Kenni goes to investigate, she finds not the owner, Viola, but Polly Parker, who had offered to take her place due to Viola's being ill.  When Polly tells her that she had to use to key to enter and found the place in a mess, Kenni becomes suspicious and decides to watch Polly in the future.

Soon the townspeople are talking about a serial killer on the loose, and it's all Kenni can do to keep her wits about her while trying to solve the two cases and wondering if they're related.  Then she learns something from the coroner that convinces her they are, but she still doesn't know who would want Doc Walton dead, and rob the jewelry store to boot.

But Kenni doesn't realize just how complicated her life is about to become: at least not until the ghost of her grandfather (and former sheriff) shows up right in the middle of the investigation.  Once she realizes he's really there (after several incidents where various townspeople are sure she's about to pass out) she embraces the fact that her beloved Poppa is there to both help her and guide her through the investigation, even if it means that others might think she's suffering a tad from the stress of trying to solve the murder...

When I first started reading this book, I thought 'oh, great, stereotypes' but as I kept reading I really began to enjoy it.  Kenni is used to being the sheriff in a small town - one so small the local movie theater is someone's basement - and feels out of her league with the occurrence of a murder.  But she's determined to solve it, partly because she wants to prove to the town she can, and partly because she wants to make her late grandfather proud.  What isn't helping is there's a slight problem with her mother, who wants her to give it all up and become a hairdresser, and also the teeny fact that she's attracted to her newly appointed deputy Finn.

But Kenni plods on, even though she knows some of the townspeople aren't happy with her questions, and with the help of Poppa, who can go places that she can't, she begins to put together the evidence to solve the murder and the robbery, which she knows are tied together.  But what is, isn't; and there are red herrings aplenty which almost lead her down the wrong path.  When the killer is finally revealed, it comes as a surprise, and the clues weren't even thought of as such, which is how it was supposed to be.

Ms. Kappes has put together a group of quirky characters in a small-town setting that absolutely works and would make us feel right at home in Cottonwood, having coffee at the local diner to start our day.  An altogether delightful book that makes me eager for the next in the series.  Highly recommended.



More on Tonya Kappe's books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/k/tonya-kappes/                        

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