by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of Grilled, Chilled, and Killed at the end of this review. Also in this same issue is a mystery short story written by Lesley.
Diminutive Florida Big Lake Country Club bartender Emily Rhodes normally has no trouble calming drunks down or handling her other more abrasive companions and that includes her part-time coworker Donald Green. Emily’s coping skills are put to the test though when she stumbles across her second body at the Big Lake Bar-B-Que Competition (the first occurring in Dumpster Dying), especially considering that the body was sauced and stuffed with an apple in his mouth. It seems that philandering Everett Pratt has basted his last hunk of meat and there are a string of competitors and the not-so-broken hearted as suspects.
Despite having absolutely no qualifications, credentials, or justifications for investigating Emily is determined to track down the killer, not so much to bring justice but to beat Detective Stanton Lewis to the punch and prove that she is the better investigator. Although she is on a vacation getaway with her daughter Naomi to celebrate her divorce from an abusive former cop, Emily marks out time on Jekyll Island to do a little detecting. That another barbeque festival just happens to be taking place on the island is a convenient coincidence that brings together all of the suspects from Pratt’s murder, including his less-than-mournful wife. The race to track down the killer heats up when disgraced and convicted former cop Toby Sands, whom Emily was partially responsible for convicting, is out on release as an informant for Lewis and still up to no good. Toby’s shenanigans involve several nefarious partners who will take down anyone who gets in their way and that just might include Emily and her friends.
Be prepared for an insane group of characters who make murder investigation a competitive sport and a romantic triangle that makes the Edward-Bella-Jacob dynamic seem the epitome of mature behavior. Emily, whose miniature physique is remarked upon half a dozen times in the first chapter, makes up for her lack of stature with an excess of confidence, stubbornness, and assertiveness.
Once the reader gets into the rhythm of absurdity and implausibility that seems completely at home in Florida, the mystery settles into an enjoyable, completely entertaining read where mistresses are named Hope, Faith, and Charity and a wheelchair-bound senior proves to be a golfing and pool hustler. The third person perspective alternates between characters, but it is Lewis who gathers the most sympathy as he displays a remarkable tolerance for the unruly, unreasonable, and uncontrollable behavior of Emily, Naomi, and Toby. This is a truly light-hearted mystery that completely embodies the absurdity and rebelliousness that seems to runs rampant in Florida.
To enter to win a copy of Grilled, Chilled, and Killed, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Grilled,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 30, 2013. U.S. residents only.
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