Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Southern Fried (A Kenni Lowry Mystery #2)

Author:  Tonya Kappes
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Paperback; Ebook
ISBN #:  9781635111903; 9781635111873
Henery Press
252 Pages
$27.39; $15.93; $2.99 Amazon
April 4, 2017

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After the dead body of a beloved Cottonwood resident is found tangled up in an electric fence, Sheriff Kenni Lowry has a hunch that somethin' ain't right.  Her investigation heats up with a fierce cook-off competition, a euchre game where the intel is sweeter than the brownies, and a decades old family recipe that may just be the proof in the pudding.  The icing on the cake:  Kenni is fighting an attraction to her recently sworn-in deputy sheriff, and election season is hot on her tail.  When the killer comes after who she holds most dear, even her poppa's ghostly guidance might not be enough to keep her and her own out of the frying pan.

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Kenni Lowry is sheriff in the small town of Cottonwood, Kentucky.  She's just gotten a call that a dead body has been found in the greenhouse of the town's only florist, Myrna Savage.  When she arrives, she sees that it's Owen Godbey, a local who's been working as Myrna's delivery man, and she's none too happy about him falling dead in her prize-winning tomatoes.  After checking out Owen's body with the help of her deputy Finn, it's her Poppa's ghost that tells her it looks like he was electrocuted with barbed wire fencing.

What Kenni does find out is that Myrna and Owen were in a heated rivalry regarding a cook-off competition, and that Myrna had recently fired Owen.  While it might land Myrna at the top of the suspect list, Kenni doesn't believe she did it, and finds that the key might lie in Owen's mother's recipe book, which held a highly guarded secret okra recipe.

It seems more than one person wants to get their hands on the book; and when it's discovered that Owen was not only electrocuted, he was poisoned as well, Kenni knows she's after a killer who might not stop until the book is found.  Unfortunately, there is a host of suspects doing their level best to lead her down the wrong path, and if she doesn't stay on the right one, she might just find herself next in line for murder.

This is the second book in the Kenni Lowry Mysteries, and I was both surprised and pleased to see that it began right where the previous book ended, with Kenni and Finn leaving the Cottonwood Festival and heading out to look at a dead body.  It's not often we see mysteries in such a continuity, and it is refreshing, not only for the timeline, but because it brings back recollections from the first book as if we have read it only recently.

This time out, we not only have the murder of Owen to deal with, but also Kenni's growing attraction to Finn and her Poppa's displeasure of the fact.  While she's telling herself (and her ghostly grandfather) that she has no intention of getting involved with her deputy, she's finding that everyone in town (including her mother) has them paired up already regardless of how she denies that fact.

Cottonwood is peppered with characters who are amusing and prone to gossip (which is how Kenni manages to get much of her information, so that's a good thing); they are people who are deeply rooted in the southern way of life, which puts good manners above all and regard for one another...while they're filing away information about you for later use.  This is a town filled with a lively populace whose individual quirks are indeed fun to watch.

At the end, when Kenni finally puts it all together and finds out the real reason Owen was murdered, it's a story of twisted loyalties, lies, and greed that comes together in a well-written tale, one that kept my interest throughout and came to a satisfying end.  The story was funny and fast-paced, and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.



More on Tonya Kappes' Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/k/tonya-kappes/  

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