by Sandra Murphy
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Caught Read-Handed and a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & an indie bookstore.
Sassy and Bridgy run Read ‘Em and Eat, a café/bookstore in Fort Meyers Beach, Florida–with the help of Miguel in the kitchen, of course. Each of the tables is named for a famous author with quotes, photos, and trivia on each one. There are several book clubs that meet there too, with Sassy acting as moderator. Fort Meyers is a small enough town that residents know each other and are always willing to pitch in and help. The tourists keep the economy going.
Sassy has a box of books to donate to the library’s annual sale but runs into a bit of trouble in the form of Tanya “Trouble” Lipscombe. It seems Tanya’s extra-rich husband thinks it would be a great idea for Tanya to do some volunteer work. That way, he won’t have to wonder where she is, who she’s with, or how much money she’s spending. Tanya puts in her time but is no help.
Sassy drives into the parking lot at the same time as another car. The man who gets out looks so much like her former boss, George, that she calls him by name. When he turns, she sees it’s not George, but the resemblance is startling—enough that she later calls George to ask. It turns out it’s his brother, Alan, a veteran who suffers from PTSD. The family was worried about Alan, who goes for long periods without contacting them—that he’s found is the good news.
The bad news is Tanya didn’t think a homeless person should be in the library and didn’t hold back about saying so, in the loudest voice possible. Alan isn’t one for confrontations and bolts from the building. When Tanya is later found sitting in her hot tub with her head bashed in, Alan heads the list of persons of interest. Also missing is Tanya’s gold diamond-studded cigarette lighter. She claimed it was worth tens of thousands of dollars and she never hesitated to wave it around so people would know she was rich.
Tanya’s stepsons haven’t wasted a tear over her passing. Her husband, Barry, makes a great show of outrage that someone would kill his poor wife, but it feels staged rather than heartfelt.
George and family come to see what can be done for Alan. Sassy does her best to make them feel welcome but the whole thing is very stressful. Pastor John and the local veterans group pitch in as well.
There’s also the unwelcome distraction of a giant green anaconda snake swimming around the island. It’s not native to the area and is causing a lot of concern for people with small pets. The environmental group thinks the snake should be captured. Pet lovers want it killed. The solution for this problem seems almost as difficult as the solution to the murder.
Sassy and Bridgy do a bit of investigation, enough to ruffle the feathers of the police but not enough to put themselves in danger. Read ‘Em and Eat is Gossip Central, after all, so listening isn’t really investigating, is it?
The characters are a delight—Miguel with all his special dishes and treats (he’s shared the recipe for Miss Marple’s Orange Iced Scones); Ophie, Bridgy’s aunt who has got to be the biggest flirt in the South; the regulars at the café; and the two policemen—Ryan who follows and Frank who leads. Cady, the reporter, is a true gentleman and a great source. I think there could be the possibility of romance for Sassy there—or would Frank, the cop, be better?
All in all, snake and Tanya aside, Fort Meyers Beach is a place you’d love to visit—and then just stay to see what happens next. There’s bound to be another mystery, right around the corner. Until then, have another scone. This is the second book in the series. Well Read, Then Dead, the first, was reviewed for KRL.
To enter to win a copy of Caught Read-Handed, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Caught,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 15, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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