Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bad Neighbors (An Agnes and Effie Mystery #2)

Author:  Maia Chance
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9781683315414
Crooked Lane Books
336 Pages
$26.99; $10.99 Amazon
April 10, 2018


It's leaf-peeping season in Naneda, New York, and Agnes Blythe has settled into helping her eccentric Great Aunt Effie restore the Stagecoach Inn.  It seems nothing can shatter the golden idyll - or the ka-ching of cash registers - until a mechanic at Hatch Automotive is found bludgeoned to death with a wrench.

Sweeping into action, Agnes and Aunt Effie are on the scene, when a tourist-laden motor coach breaks down outside of town.  The Stagecoach Inn isn't exactly ready for guests, but Agnes and Effie agree to take in a group of seniors while they wait for repairs.  But then, Agnes finds herself pulled into the investigation when she learns her new boyfriend, gorgeous Otis Hatch, is the Naneda Police Department's prime suspect.

With bodies falling faster than the foliage, Agnes must leaf through the more viable suspects and clear Otis's name of murder.


Agnes Blythe has moved into her Aunt Effie's still-working-on Stagecoach Inn, getting ready to turn it into a B & B.  Right now it's pretty much a disaster area.  But when they receive news that a motor coach on a leaf-peeping tour has broken down, they're asked to take in several of the tourists.  Since they're not licensed, Effie agrees - as non-paying guests - and does her best to ready some rooms.  Meanwhile, she sends Agnes into town to pick up those guests at Hatch Automotive, where Agnes' boyfriend Otis works.

But when Agnes arrives, she finds the police there, and Otis being escorted into a police car.  It seems a local, Mikey, has been murdered at the shop, and since Otis's wrench was the murder weapon, he's the logical party.  So what's a woman to do?  Help Otis, of course!  So Agnes and Effie set about - along with help from Agnes's cousin Chester, who also works at the Inn, and even help from a couple of the guests - to prove Otis innocent and find the guilty party.  But will they be able to do so, especially when the police are sure he's the murderer and the townspeople aren't helping, since it seems they have their own secrets to hide...

This is a cute cozy mystery, the second in the new series by Maia Chance.  While I enjoyed the interaction between the guests and their hosts, there were a couple of things that bothered me.  Agnes didn't even try to hide the fact she was investigating - she is really, really bad at it.  She accuses everyone of being the murderer, and puts herself in situations no sane person would do.  And who pulls up floors in the middle of the night while you have guests?  It's not exactly a silent thing to do.  The noise would be heard.  It just seemed odd to me.  I get that they want - need to renovate - but surely she could have picked better times or set aside a time until the guests leave.  (And a guest who isn't paying complaining to the host as Hank did seemed rather petty).

Yes, I had complaints.  So why did I give it four stars?  Because it was funny at times, and poor Agnes was trying so hard to do the right thing, even though her heart was breaking.  I liked Chester best of all; he was who he was without trying to be something else.   He seemed to have a more natural personality without any angst.  Having not read the first in the series, I still haven't made up my mind about her father, since he pretty much ignored her unless she did something that made him happy (even a small town mayor doesn't have so much to do that he can't visit or call his only child on a regular basis - I'm one of five and my dad and I talked on the phone every single day).

While the plot was very good, there were a lot of characters to keep track of, and at times I had to keep going back to figure out who was who; but the story was interesting enough to keep me reading, and there was plenty of action.  I enjoyed the interaction between Agnes, Effie and Chester.  She's an aunt anyone would love to have.  It's a good start to a new series and I will read the next when it comes out.  Recommended.


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