Month: May 2021

Book Review: Four Cuts Too Many by Debra H. Goldstein

“Four Cuts Too Many” is the fourth book in the Sarah Blair series by Debra H. Goldstein. This book definitely lives up to the high standards set by the previous books in the series; in fact, it may be the best one yet! Goldstein has scored a home run with main character Sarah, who is a caring woman with common sense who approaches cooking (and life) with a philosophy of “the quicker and easier, the better”. She is also not a perfect size 2, and still seems to like herself, which is nice to see in any book. Minor characters (including twin sister Emily, mother Maybelle, lawyer Harlan, and chef/friend Grace) are also well-drawn, with distinctive personalities. We even get to learn a fair bit about some new characters, including the murder victim. As always, adorable pets Fluffy and Rah-Rah get plenty of airtime, and we spend a bit of time getting to know a certain veterinarian.

Sarah spends most of this book trying to help her friend Grace, who is being railroaded by the local police for a crime Sarah is sure she didn’t commit. There are also some interesting developments with her romantic life and future plans. There is plenty going on in this story to keep things interesting, but never so much that the reader feels overwhelmed…the author strikes the perfect balance between hard-core clue hunting and the daily lives of her characters.

Once again, Ms. Goldstein manages to avoid the typical cozy mystery romance tropes. Four books into the series, and our heroine is still single, and perfectly happy without a serious romantic relationship in her life. She makes a surprising decision about a man she is currently dating that goes against what readers expect from a cozy, and I was thrilled to see it! (Not because of the relationship, but because I LOVE it when an author writes something other than exactly what is expected in her genre.)

By the end, I had a pretty strong suspicion as to the identity of the “bad guy”, because Sarah is so detail-oriented and organized with her investigating. The final reveal was exciting, and everything made sense based on all the clues.

I have only good things to say about this book, this series, and this author. I think this book could stand alone, but you’ll miss out of some lovely character development. It’s up to you…start with Book 1, or dive right in with this one. You can’t go wrong either way!

Five out of five perfect chunks of cheddar!

Book Review: Dead in the Water by Jeannette de Beauvoir

by Chewie the Mouse

There’s something special about Jeannette de Beauvoir’s books, and “Dead in the Water” is no exception. It contains everything you expect in a cozy mystery (heroine with a fun job, law-enforcement boyfriend, quirky best friend, cute pet), but brings SO MUCH MORE to the table. This time around, Sydney is dealing with a kidnapping, as the ransom note was delivered to Glenn at the inn. And as it turns out, she has some past experience with kidnapping/missing persons, as her sister Alex was abducted (and never found) when she was young. I didn’t know this about Sydney before, and it made me admire her even more…the way she’s so strong and capable despite her childhood trauma.

The main reason I love Sydney Riley, though, is her sense of humor! Sydney is truly hilarious. She says some funny things, but her internal dialog (filled with trademark Sydney snark) is even funnier. If she were a real person, I’d LOVE to hang out with her and enjoy her wit and personality. This sense of humor is especially helpful this time around, as Sydney’s parents are in town for a visit, so she has them to deal with along with trying to solve the mystery. And speaking of out of town guests….someone else makes an appearance as well. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers, but you WON’T be disappointed!

As always, the author brings Provincetown to life for the reader through her writing. This time around, we learn about an abandoned military base on the outskirts of town. (In the author’s note, it is explained that the version Sydney experiences is a former version, and a description of the changes is provided.) We also get to tag along on a couple of whale watching excursions, and learn more about that aspect of life in P’Town, as well as about whales. Did you know that the whale/dolphin watching industry originated in that area? I didn’t before, but I do now! I love it when I learn something from a story! Each book I read in this series makes me want to take a trip to Provincetown even more.

The mystery itself, as always, was detailed, well-plotted, and interesting. There were plenty of clues and red herrings, and once Sydney figures everything out, it all fell into place and made perfect sense. I did NOT guess the culprit, and never even suspected this person until something that happened very near the end. Looking back, all the clues pointed in that direction, if only I were a better detective!

Overall, as always for the Provincetown books, five out of five slices of spicy Pepper-Jack!