Kernel of Truth
A Popcorn Shop Mystery, Book #1
By Kristi Abbott
Author’s website: www.Kristiabbottauthor.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Opening a gourmet popcorn shop was never on Rebecca Anderson’s bucket list. But after a failed marriage to a celebrity chef, she’s ready for her life to open up and expand. She has returned to her hometown of Grand Lake, Ohio, with her popcorn-loving poodle Sprocket to start a new business—naturally called POPS. As a delicious bonus, Cordelia “Coco” Bittles, a close family friend who has always been like a grandmother to Rebecca, owns the chocolate shop next door, and the two are thinking of combining their businesses.
But when Coco’s niece, Alice, discovers her on the floor of her chocolate shop, those dreams go up in smoke. The local sheriff thinks Coco was the victim of a robbery gone wrong, but Rebecca isn’t so sure. As suspects start popping up all over, Rebecca is determined to turn up the heat and bring the killer to justice in a jiffy!
Kernel of Truth is a fun start to a new series, popping with a protagonist full of heart and a great poodle sidekick.
Rebecca Anderson could not wait to leave her hometown of Grand Lake, Ohio, behind once she graduated. But, after a decade away and failed marriage under her belt, she decides to throw caution to the wind and return home to open a gourmet popcorn shop between the floral shop and Coco’s Cocoas. The chocolate shop’s proprietor Coco has served as Rebecca’s friend, mentor, and saving grace after Rebecca’s parents died in an accident when she was a teen. Early one morning when Rebecca hears Coco’s niece Jessica’s scream from the shop, she rushes over, only to find Coco deceased. Was she the victim of a robbery gone horribly wrong? Rebecca is overcome with grief, but also furious that her friend’s life should end so violently. A local man is arrested for the crime, but when another similar break in and assault occurs, Rebecca feels that the real killer is still at large and takes it upon herself to investigate. However, her efforts make her look more and more like she should be the prime suspect. She must put her all into overcoming her rebellious reputation and find justice for Coco.
I found Kernel of Truth to be a great introduction to the Popcorn Shop Mystery series. Like most cozy mysteries, Kernel is character driven, and its protagonist Rebecca is well developed and interesting. Sometimes cozy amateur sleuths are “too good to be true”, but Rebecca is realistically drawn and, though flawed and impulsive, full of heart and common sense. Her relationship with her sister and brother-in-law is not forced. I love that her brother-in-law is also her best friend. His position as sheriff, the pair’s unorthodox relationship, and the resulting predicaments are entertaining and ad a fresh spin on the usual law enforcement/sleuth conflict. For the most part the other residents of Grand Lake are typical tourist town fare but not caricatures or stale. Jessica, being Rebecca’s rival and nemesis, is easy to dislike. I just do not understand how she is able to fool the majority of the town with her “perfect” persona.
The mystery itself is serviceable but not profound. I figured out whodunit really early in the story. That said it was enjoyable reading to follow along with Rebecca as she investigated and came to conclusions. The fact that Coco’s murder was deeply personal for Rebecca made it more compelling. The pace of the story was good. The subplot of Rebecca’s ex Antoine trying to win her back was a bit silly and unnecessary. However, he did prove quite useful in the end.
Kernel of Truth is delightful reading, and I look forward to more popcorn adventures. I recommend it to any cozy mystery fan.