A Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery, Book #2
By Terrie Farley Moran
Authors website: www.terriefarleymoran.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Jeanie
From the national bestselling author of Well Read, Then Dead comes the second mystery featuring Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, who bring Fort Myers Beach, Florida, residents plenty of sinful treats and killer reads at their bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat.
Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers’ haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe—also known as “Tanya Trouble.” She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she’s later found murdered in her own hot tub.
The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy’s former boss—and he’s no murderer. Now it’s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan’s name and make sure the real killer gets booked.
Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!
Terrie Moran Farley has outdone herself, delivering ‘Caught Read-Handed’ as even better than the first book in the Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery series! Sassy and Bridgy, BFF’s, and Bridgy’s Aunt Ophie, are back. Ophie now has her own shop, Treasure Trove, just down the street from the Read ‘Em and Eat, a wonderfully unique cafe and bookstore where good reads and good eats go hand-in-hand. Try to keep the ketchup off of the pages, please….and don’t take sides against Jocelyn Kendall, a local pastor’s wife and member of the several reading groups!
The colorful cover art is inviting, showing the interior of the Read ‘Em and Eat, complete with bookshelves, tables, and Chef Extraordinaire Miguel’s beautiful Maine Coon cat, Bow just outside. Ms. Farley has designed the most eclectic bookstore and cafe that I would spend time at if it were in my neighborhood, with irresistible characters who are fun and feisty.
This reader was drawn into the mystery from the beginning. Mary “Sassy” Sassafras Cabot, at the library to donate some books, sees an interesting old Mustang outside that has in the front seat – a tree limb? Sassy thought the driver looked like her former boss from Brooklyn, George Mersky, but the disheveled man who turned to her when she called out George’s name only strongly resembled him. As she hefted the carton of books to the door, she heard a woman yelling and the man who resembled George scurried out the door mumbling. She learned he was one of the local homeless veterans who the library allowed computer use even without a library card or ID to allow them to work out their needs online. Tanya “Trouble”, wife of Barry Lipscome, the owner of Lipscome Builders, is a new volunteer at the library who has a few challenges with customer service. She disagreed with allowing some of the vets to use computers, and was rude to the man that Sassy saw. Learning the man’s name was Alan Mersky, she called her former boss and heard that he was indeed a relative. Sassy promised to try to find George Mersky’s brother who struggled with PTSD since his third tour of duty in Iraq.
A few evenings later, Tanya Lipscome was found murdered in her hot tub, with the murder weapon seemingly a tree limb. The tree limb was later found to be a match to the tree limb in Alan Mersky’s car, who became a person of interest when the police learned he was someone who might be angry at Tanya after she made the scene in the library. So George, his wife O’Mally and sister Regina were on a plane, heading to Fort Myers Beach, Florida to help Alan. It was all that Sassy could do to “not” get involved with finding another murderer, since – as everyone reminded her – she almost lost her own life when asking questions once before.
As if that wasn’t enough, Miguel was in a panic over the green anaconda spotted far from its home waters in Estero Bay. It could conceivably crush small animals, including pets roaming through their yards at the Bay. Miguel adored Bow, and was willing to do almost anything to keep his beloved cat safe!
The characters are fully developed; the conversations flow smoothly and complete. Actions and reactions are confident. It is clear that Sassy and Bridgy are long-time friends who would do almost anything for each other. They have been in town long enough to have many faithful customers and several good friends, among them Cady Stanton, the local newspaper reporter and Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Mantoni. Even Lieutenant Frank Anthony has a grudging respect for them, especially after seeing their intelligence and courage when ‘helping’ find a murderer. Each character has strengths and weaknesses that add to their 3-dimensional stature.
The plot is extremely well planned and thoroughly executed with no outstanding issues at the close of the story. The author’s descriptions bring each scene to life, and there are enough plot twists to keep the avid mystery fan tensely awake. While I did figure out who the killer was a step ahead of Sassy, I was not disappointed in any aspect of the mystery. The closing of this cozy has me already looking forward to the next one! I highly recommend ‘Caught Read-Handed’ to anyone who likes their mysteries tense and intelligent, yet fun! Those who enjoy ‘foodie’ mysteries and those based in Florida won’t want to miss it, either. And the green anaconda – well, you will have to read it and see!