March 30th, 2017

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Book 34

A Frying Shame (Deep Fried Mystery #3)A Frying Shame by Linda Reilly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In full disclosure, I won a copy from a Goodreads giveaway which in no way influenced my review. This was a solid 3-3.5 review for me. It was a fun read but I did have some problems with it. One slight problem is it’s book three but really the only thing I felt like I was missing out on was the lead character, Talia’s, romance with Ryan (who is away for a business meeting for 98% of the novel so it was hard to work up any interest in that part of the story line).

Talia, the owner and head cook of Fry Me a Slice (a restaurant that specializes in fried food, something I’ve never seen and probably never will), has entered a cooking contest along with a friend, Crystal and a couple others in town, Harry (a realtor), Dylan (another cook) and Norma (an old woman, former lunch lady). It’s been run by Wes Thurman who used to live in town and has returned a rather wealthy man. Talia has some bad feelings about the whole thing, especially when it local blow hard politician, Ferringer shows up with his trophy wife, Jodie. Not to mention everyone seems very uncomfortable with Wes and Norma seems afraid of everyone.

Soon enough, Norma is dead and Lucas, Talia’s employee has been hospitalized. Crystal is quickly arrested and naturally Talia doesn’t trust the cops to really investigate the crime (even though she’s on half way decent terms with at least one of them, Prescott). She’s warned off the case (like that’ll work) but she’s determined to help her friend. Worse, Crystal and Audrey (Crystal’s partner) have a suddenly strained relationship and young Molly, Audrey college-aged daughter is getting Facebook friend’s requests from Wes Thurman (who is much older) and feels creeped out.

Talia and her friends are likeable enough. The mystery is very readable even if it was fairly easy to deduce. It was still fun enough that I didn’t mind that. I’d read more of the series. I will say though I’m not overly fond of cozies where the amateur sleuth isn’t supported by the cops (and in the case also not supported by her boyfriend). I find them less plausible but I didn’t take that into consideration for my rating as it’s a matter of taste and no fault of the author’s.

So what bothered me? (minor spoilers) One, I know cozies are gentler in both language and violence. I’m fine with not swearing (okay I swear a lot). I have friends who almost never swear but they also don’t resort to Ned Flanderisms in place of the swears. The first couple of chapters we have grown adults calling each other boobyheads and other nonsense. It was so eye rolling. There felt like there was an attempt to echo Mayberry with this but luckily that faded away and we just went with skipping swears (thank you.)

Two, Talia learns someone isn’t nearly as injured as the killer thought he was. I’m not even sure why Prescott tells Talia this but okay, fine. However, this character is close to others so Talia spends most of the book thinking ‘oh if only I could tell them and make them feel better but I promised. If I tell, the killer will try harder to kill him next time.’ Unfortunately this comes up so many times, I felt like I was being punched in the nose with it.

Three, I had an issue with the time line but this might be because I didn’t read book 1 & 2. Molly is in college. We keep hearing that Lucas is ‘too young for her.’ But later I swear Talia said they’d had a 20th birthday party for Lucas. If I’m not mixing facts up, then there’s an issue. I assumed Lucas was like 16 but if he’s 20 then did Molly start college late? Because most traditional students graduate at 21.

Four, and this is the big one. Talia’s friend, Vivian gives her a critical piece of information that puts many of the puzzle pieces in their place. Somehow, Talia just doesn’t get it. It’s so blatant that the fact she doesn’t get it (and it explains a good chunk of all the tension between Crystal, Audrey and Molly not to mention Wes and some of the other contestants) makes me doubt how she could possibly solve the case. It’s a true TSTL moment. What made it worse was (and I don’t say this often) her editors let Ms. Reilly down here. This information comes before we find out what’s going on with Molly and what we’re to think could be an older man cyber-creep. So the reader knows why Wes is trying to friend her but it takes Talia far too long to figure out something almost anyone would have guessed the moment they heard this tidbit. If this had been shuffled a bit, learning Molly might be facing a stalker first could have added a lot of tension to this part of the plot. And there isn’t really any reason these chapters couldn’t have been flip flopped. It would have made Wes look much more like a prime suspect. It could have been a little scary for Molly and in my opinion, it’s something an editor should have pointed out. Because seriously, Talia missing this tidbit ruined my faith as a reader in her abilities.

That said, I did like the book overall and I’m sure cozy lovers will enjoy it.

View all my reviews
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