“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!