In Hot Water: A Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery By J.J. Cook

Jan 24, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

Details at the end of this review on how to enter to win a copy of In Hot Water. There is also a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.

When we last saw the town of Sweet Pepper’s Fire Chief Stella Griffin, she was attempting to stop Councilman Floyd from bulldozing the home she lives in but he now owned. It wasn’t that Stella loved the cabin as much as she feared destroying it would cut ties that keep the previous fire chief grounded to this plane of existence. Eric Gamblyn may have died forty years ago but his presence is felt in the cabin he now haunts. Stella relies on him for advice, companionship, and impressive meals. Eric may be a little out of date and she may not always agree with him, but Sweet Pepper hasn’t changed all that much and his insight proves invaluable. An unexpected spurt in his ability to travel and experience the twenty-first century is a delight for readers but makes for awkward situations when Stella is in

Stella’s concerns about Floyd’s stability are sidelined as arson and the possible murder of a former state representative takes precedence. Stella is also responsible for training qualified volunteers, an arduous task based on demands placed on first responders. Stella has her own personal challenge of forging a relationship with Ben Carson, the grandfather she never knew she had. He’s a powerful man who is both respected and feared by much of Sweet Pepper.

As J.J. Cook, the bestselling authors Jim and Joyce Lavene display practiced skill at crafting elaborate plots and evolving characters. The training, physical demands, and emotional burdens of a fire brigade are explored more than in previous entries. The political quagmire means Stella has to maneuver between a shady state representative candidate, a city council that controls her budget, and townspeople who revel in gossip. Her budding romance with a deputy was put to a stop by his explosive hatred of Ben, but fortunately it looks as though there is no dearth of suitors ready to step in. As Eric becomes the most stabilizing presence in her life, an unnerving conclusion ensures that readers will be anxious to see how Stella meets her next challenge. Sweet Pepper feels as real as the the characters, especially the late Eric Gamblyn. Readers will want more.

To enter to win a copy of In Hot Water, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Water,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen January 31, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

Click on this link to purchase this book and you will be supporting an indie bookstore & a portion goes to help support KRL.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).


  1. nice review

  2. This book sounds very interesting, a lot going on in the little town. I think it’s pretty neat that it’s co-authored by husband and wife. Thank you for the contest!

  3. I know what talented writers the Lavenes are. They always produce a book that is fun to read.

  4. A writing team unsurpassed. Would like very much to read & review.

  5. I’ve read the original in this series and loved it!! Now I’d love to read this one, too.

  6. Would enjoy reading — thanks for chance to win a copy!

  7. Still interested.

  8. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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