Thursday, November 1, 2018

Eggs on Ice (A Cackleberry Club Mystery Book 8)

Author:  Laura Childs
Genre:  Mystery

Hardcover; Audio CD; Digital Book
ISBN #:  9780425281727; 9781974918188
Berkley Publishing (Dreamscape Audio)
304 Pages
$17.10; $19.49; $12.99 Amazon
December 4, 2018

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Some say that casting crusty attorney Allen Sharpe as Scrooge in the Kindred Players production of "A Christmas Carol" is just playing to type.  He's not the most beloved man in town.  In fact, you'd have a dickens of a time finding someone who liked him.  Still it's a shock when the Ghost of Christmas Past stabs him during the first rehearsal.  Suzanne, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café, Kindred's favorite combination diner, craft store and bookshop, chases the murderer out of the building and loses him in the alley.

As the days pass the list of suspects grows longer.  Is it the disgruntled partner?  The former secretary whom Sharpe sexually harassed?  Or is it fellow owner of the Cackleberry Club, Toni's almost ex-husband, Junior?  The women of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he can add another victim to his Christmas list.

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Suzanne, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Café, in Kindred, Minnesota, is part of a theater group putting on A Christmas Carol.  But when their Scrooge - attorney Allen Sharpe - is murdered by the Ghost of Christmas Past (or someone pretending to be so), it's a race to find a murderer that no one has seen.  When she's later approached by a young woman named Amber who's asking for help, she's surprised.  It seems Suzanne's friend has sent Amber to her because she's the one that Sheriff Doogie has in mind for the murder, but Amber insists she's innocent.

Suzanne doesn't know her at all, and wants to believe the best, but she isn't sure.  Still, with her curious nature she can't help but wonder who not only killed Allen, but threatened her with the same knife.  So she sets about looking into the investigation herself, even enlisting the help of her friend Toni.  But then the stakes are raised at a seemingly harmless endeavor, and now Suzanne knows she's also on the killer's radar.  But can Doogie - or Suzanne - find a killer before he manages to finish her off?...

This is the eighth book in the Cackleberry Club Mysteries, so there isn't a lot of background on the characters for those who haven't read the previous in the series, but there is enough explanation as the book progresses that it shouldn't leave anyone in the dark, either.

While I knew the identity of the killer early on I was interested to find out how Suzanne would come to the same conclusion.  The clues weren't overt, but they weren't hidden, either.  There wasn't tons of action involved, it was basically Suzanne going about her daily life and asking questions in the process.  She's not invasive, and is never get-up-in-your-face about it, which I enjoyed.

She does have her own ideas about the killer and several suspects, yet when she tries to veer away from Doogie's insistence that Amber might very well be the killer, something sort of pulls her back in that direction, which confuses her.

Add to this the fact that Toni's almost-ex-husband Junior has had his trailer blown up and now he's temporarily living with her; while he's pretty much a neer-do-well with the brains of a squirrel (and I'm giving him too much credit here as squirrels can be intelligent), but his heart is always in the right place.  It's an interesting subplot.  There was also a few things that seemed odd at best - a fashion show at a Christmas tea?  Who would do that?  What about women who don't care for fashion (like myself) but would rather just have a nice tea - I would find it out of place and distracting from what is supposed to be a seasonal event.

In the end, there was a bit of suspenseful action which was nice, and it gave the tale a little oomph that was needed.  When all came together I felt that it was rather pat, since we weren't given any explanation of why things happened the way they did; and I would have liked to have an extra chapter to explain everything; it felt rushed to me  (I have put the major spoiler on Goodreads where it is hidden; I did not feel the need to also put it here).  All in all, a decent entry in the series.  Recommended.

https://www.amazon.com/Eggs-Ice-Cackleberry-Club-Mystery/dp/0425281728/ref

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2580632545

More on Laura Childs's Books:  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/c/laura-childs/

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