Read to Death
A Read Em’ and Eat Mystery #3
By Terrie Farley Moran
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The national bestselling author of Caught Read-Handed revisits Fort Myers Beach, Florida, where the proprietors of a local bookstore café occasionally take a stab at solving murder…
At their seaside Read ‘Em and Eat bookstore café, Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield offer fresh scones, great books, and excellent detective work…
With their book club season wrapping up with The Florida Life of Thomas Edison, Sassy and Bridgy decide to take their group on a day trip to the beautiful Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Hiring driver Oscar Frieland, who’s known for his colorful stories and love of the café’s Robert Frost fruit tartlets, the bibliophiles set off for a day of sunshine and history.
After a lovely excursion, the club returns to the café for lunch and a book discussion, but the group falls silent after Oscar is found dead in his van. The sheriff’s deputies have some questions of their own for the group, and if the ladies don’t find some answers soon, the next book they read might be from a prison library. (from Goodreads)
It is so refreshing to spend a few days with Sassy and Bridgy in Fort Myers Beach again! And to learn something new while reading their latest adventure is kind of like the icing between the layers of a cake – something sweet that brings a little added substance to enhance the whole experience. ‘Read to Death’ is the suspenseful yet still delightful third novel in the ‘Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery’ series, which can be read as a standalone or as part of the series.
It is spring, and time for the winter visitors to head north, including those in the book clubs led at the Read ‘Em and Eat cafe. The final book read about Thomas Edison’s and two other famous, contemporary innovators winter visits to Fort Myers led the club to choose to rent a van and driver to visit the Florida homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Sassy and Bridgy went on the morning trip with the club, joined by Bridgy’s Aunt Ophie. The driver kept the ladies entertained with stories of his younger days in Atlantic City as well as what he knew about Edison from his early days growing up in New Jersey.
The ladies returned to the cafe for lunch; when Bridgy noticed she was missing her sunglasses, Sassy suggested she look in the van as it was still in the parking area. Sadly, Bridgy found more than her sunglasses…she found the van driver on board, dead. Murdered, with nobody else nearby. Which left Bridgy as the primary suspect because she was found alone with the body.
The characters that the author has included in this series work so well together! Bridgy and Sassy have been friends forever, it seems like, and they know each other better than many friends do. Since opening the cafe, they have not taken time away just to have fun, yet they still have great dispositions. While there are sometimes surprises, this pair of friends is very well defined. Also well characterized are Ophie, Bridgy’s aunt, and Miguel, the cook. I really like all of the primary ‘regulars’. The less-defined but also important are Deputy Ryan, Lieutenant Frank Anthony, and Cady, the ladies’ long-term friend and reporter for the local newspaper. Some of the customers and book club members are only in one novel, and some in all of them, and they are defined as necessary for their roles. All, however, fit beautifully into each mystery in the series, important pieces of the same puzzle.
‘Read to Death’ is written with excellence; the author is great with dialog that sounds as normal as what one would hear around us each day – worry, humor, business, and family dynamics. The plot is interesting, having had grabbed my attention from the first page and keeping it captive through the end. There was seat-grabbing suspense, plot twists that changed the course of the investigation, and at times there were no other suspects. I loved the visit from the mothers; it brought just the right amount of love, frustration, and comic relief to the story! It also reminds us of the relationships between adult daughters and their mothers. Of course, not every mother has a daughter who tries to investigate murders on her own, but when the stakes are high, Bridgy and Sassy are willing to go the distance for each other. I also appreciated learning bits about Thomas Edison and Henry Ford that I had not previously known.
The ending, while somewhat of a surprise, was entirely satisfying, leaving this reader looking forward to the next one in the series! I highly recommend ‘Read to Death’ to cozy mystery lovers who enjoy the cafe/ bookstore setting and a well-planned, finely executed story with delightful, memorable characters.