Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Survival of the Fritters (A Deputy Donut Mystery #1)

Author:  Ginger Bolton
Genre:  Mystery

Trade Paperback; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN:  9781496711878; 9781977355201
Kensington Publishing (Tantor Audio)
256 Pages
$12.31; $22.83; $6.99 Amazon
January 30, 2018


If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it's to stay calm during stressful situations.  But that's a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing.  Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle.  Her pals fear the worst - especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town.  As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home.  And they find her - murdered among a scattering of stale donuts...

Disturbingly, Georgia's demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son's murder, a case Emily's late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death.  With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man's life at stake, Emily's forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers.  Though someone's alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind.  And if Emily can't trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business...


Emily Westhill is the widow of a police detective.  She and her father-in-law Tom, retired police chief, own Deputy Donuts, a coffee and donut shop in town.  The shop is named after Emily's cat Deputy Donut, who now goes by the name of Dep.

One morning she notices that a regular group of elderly knitters is missing one of their members.  Georgia Treeter never misses a day, and it's remarked upon by the others, including a new woman she's never seen before.  When she's introduced to Lois Underlaw, the new member, Lois tells her how she's Georgia's best friend and has only recently returned to town.  Later that evening the group returns to the shop and asks Emily if she wants to go with them to see if Georgia is alright.

When they arrive at Georgia's home, they find no sign of a disturbance, but still can't find her.  Unfortunately, while exploring the home it's Emily who comes across Georgia's body...and her mouth has been stuffed with a doll wearing donuts as a skirt.  After calling 911, Emily and the others are questioned and released, yet Emily feels a need to help find the killer.

Later she discovers that her cat Dep has found something in her garden and she follows her, hearing a low 'help.'  What she finds is that there is an opening in the wall between her house and the next, and when she goes to investigate she finds Lois on the ground.  Lois tells her she fell, and while talking Emily learns that Lois thinks Dep is her cat and has named her Tiger.  She later discovers that Lois is lying, and is the aunt of Randy Underlaw, a local bad boy who had also left town five years ago and returned when his aunt did.

But now Emily has a problem.  Lois is obviously lying about falling, and there are other inconsistencies in her story as well.  What it's all leading up to is the fact that she knows more than she's saying about Georgia's murder, and Randy may be involved also.  But what's disconcerting is the fact that she now has to deal with her late husband Alec's partner Brent Fyne, who's never stepped foot in the shop and whom she's had no contact with in the years after Alec's death.  While it all seems too much to bear, Emily hasn't a choice if she's going to find out the truth of what happened to Georgia and how it's connected to the death of Georgia's son Matthias, who also was murdered five years ago...

Well, I have to say that I wasn't real sure about this book after reading the first pages.  First, we never get to meet Georgia, so there's no real connection to the character, and it's hard to feel sympathy for someone you know nothing about.  We don't understand why Emily feels the need to solve the case.  How well did she know her?  Was she just a customer?  Did she have any interaction with the woman?  We never find out.

Then, Emily was married to a cop and was a 911 dispatcher, yet she has no trouble at all disturbing a crime scene - first by removing the doll from the victim's mouth and then telling a bunch of women to walk around the house looking for footprints, instead of staying outside by the van and calling the police immediately.  Is she the stupidest woman on the face of the earth?  No matter how 'shocked' she says she is, a 911 operator should know better.

Then, Lois just sees a 'stray' cat that looks like it's well-fed and taken care of and only shows up for a little while each night (which must be since Dep belongs to Emily and she doesn't leave her alone for long and keeps her in at night) and decides to name and 'adopt' it?  Really?  She doesn't notice her collar (which she must have if Emily leashes her to take her to the shop every day)?  I have to say that the conversation they were at first having was confusing since I thought they were talking about two different cats.  When I realized they were both talking about Dep, though Lois had named her Tiger, I was wondering why Lois would think this was her cat since she couldn't have been spending a lot of time with Dep - or why she continued to call Dep Tiger, knowing her real name.

Emily also knows Lois was attacked - even if Lois wouldn't admit it - but she has no problem allowing her cat to spend time in Lois's home.  Obviously she doesn't care that if the attacker were to come back and was serious about hurting Lois, that they wouldn't have any qualms about hurting Emily's cat, either.  Again, stupid woman.  And I, for one, wouldn't share my cat.  I'd tell the person (nicely, of course) that perhaps we could go to the shelter together and pick out a nice cat for her.

Then there's a supposed nemesis of Emily's named Yvonne Passenmath, who hates her because Alec chose Emily and not her.  He didn't even date her, and she's been holding a grudge against Emily for over seven years because of something that never happened?  Really?  Then the fact that it's stated that Yvonne couldn't pass the detective exam in their city but managed to do so in another and now has been made lead on the case doesn't make any sense.  Was their exam easier to pass?  Because you'd think the exam would be the same all over the state.  Especially since her colleagues state that she did sloppy police work.  So how did this happen?  I, for one, am so, so tired of the "evil nemesis" in books.  Honestly, how many people hate your guts enough to want to ruin your life?  I've stopped reading series because of this, just like I've stopped reading series with love triangles.  At any rate, I certainly hope Yvonne doesn't show up in future books to make Emily miserable.

Now that I've got the bad things out of the way, on to the good:  the plot was a decent one, and I liked the idea that we never really knew who the killer was, since there were several suspects along the way.  I also liked the way the story picked up after the first initial problems that I've mentioned above.  However, I really would have liked to have known how Alec actually died; I think it would have given more 'teeth' to the story and given us a bit of sympathy for Emily.  It doesn't tell us why she's had such an aversion to Brent for the past three years.

There's also a spoiler below that gives away some of the final information, so please don't read it if you haven't read the book and intend to do so.

In the end, this was a decent start to a new series, and when everything was revealed it had a satisfying ending.  I would like to see this series continue and will read the next book in the hope that the glitches have been worked out.  There are also some nice recipes in the back for those who like to cook.


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