Saturday, May 5, 2018

Cinco de Murder (A Taste of Texas Mystery #3)

Author:  Rebecca Adler
Genre:  Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425275955
Berkley Publishing
302 Pages
$7.99; $7.99 Amazon
April 3, 2018

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It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities.  Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her fiesty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu:  Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent.  And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life - before another cook kicks the bucket.

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When Josie's Uncle Eddie is heading a chili cook-off, everything seems to be going well, aside from the fact that one of the entrants, Lucky Straw, has been causing dissension between entrants and even cornered Josie about his "special dietary needs" at the restaurant.  The next day when Josie is checking water and electricity hookups to the entrants, she sees that a tent is covering those hookups, so finding it open, enters and discovers Lucky's body.  After calling the police, Detective Lightfoot arrives and between Josie and her family he agrees to allow the cook-off to continue if they move everyone at least 100 feet away from the crime scene.

While the judges aren't happy - for some odd reason they're blaming Josie's family for the death, like if there's a death in your neighborhood, everyone in the neighborhood must be guilty of having something to do with it - but anyway, they continue on with the contest.  After all is said and done, the winners are named and everyone continues with the rest of the festival, where there is a parade and vendors have set up along the street.  Since it is Cinco de Mayo (coincidentally, so is the day I am writing this review) the restaurant is crowded and they are doing a great business.

But while the police think that Lucky merely died from natural causes - it seems his pacemaker had an interruption and that it sometimes happen - Josie is convinced that it was anything but natural - and proceeds to question several of the cook-off attendees to try and find out if any of them are guilty of the murder.  What she does find out is that Lucky was in a position of power where he worked and laid several of them off and they haven't been able to find employment since.  This gives them motive and the cook-off gives them opportunity, but which one of them hated him enough to see him dead?...

This is the third book in the series and it definitely has improved over the other two.  The plot was well-done and the writing is good.  However, I felt that there weren't enough clues to lead us to the killer (as we know there has been a murder) and therefore, in finding out the identity we weren't given a decent chance, so it was a complete surprise all around; actually, we didn't find out until the end the reason why this person wanted Lucky dead, and I did feel that it was rather a cheat, since we were given "red herrings" throughout that lead to someone else; Josie basically accidentally came upon the killer as there were no clues, either.

Also, this book was pretty much more about Josie's love life, and since in the previous book she was stating that she wasn't interested in men, in this book she did a complete 180.  I also didn't like the fact that the author made Ryan a complete 'player' in this book as to 'disqualify' him from ever being her boyfriend again, leading us (none too gently) toward Lightfoot as the love interest.  I know it's a personal thing, but I don't care for men with long hair at all, so he never appealed to me as a love interest anyway.  (We sometimes project our feelings - heck, usually - onto the book we're reading and that's mine).

At the last, there was a nice nail-biting scene toward the end although I don't like the idea of using pets as bait.  It's cruel and uncalled for, as I felt was done in this scene, and that's why I couldn't give it five stars.  An easy cozy mystery that can be read in a few hours and has colorful scenes.

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