A Perfect Proposals Mystery, Book #3
By Nancy J Parra
Author’s website: www.nancyjparra.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
The wedding for Pepper Pomeroy’s sister Felicity starts with dearly beloved but it ends with dearly departed when Ashley, the bartender Pepper befriended earlier in the evening, drops dead from a lethal nightcap. Authorities think it’s just a tragic accident. After all, who’d want to kill a virtual stranger at a country club wedding reception? That’s what Pepper wants to know.
A search into Ashley’s past reveals a twisty path of secret sororities, well-connected enemies, and an unsolved slaying still shadowing members of high society—including a filthy-rich battle-ax whose demands for the services of Pepper’s Perfect Proposals are starting to sound more like veiled threats. Pepper’s business may be booming but continued success means outsmarting a mysterious culprit who’s still wedded to the idea of murder.
Newlywed Dead is a great new read by Nancy J. Parra, from whom I have come to anticipate several great things in a cozy mystery. One is how she brings comedy into almost any situation; another is her penchant for strong, purely delightful female protagonists with interesting careers. In this case, she is adept at taking a rather unique small business into a completely credible service. Third in the Perfect Proposals Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone.
Pepper Pomeroy owns Pepper’s Perfect Proposals, a service that helps plan the perfect, surprise proposal event for couples who can afford to go all out to begin their lives together. She has contacts who can provide the best catering or background events, such as the toy soldier department of F.A.O. Schwartz for a member of the military. Pepper’s sister Felicity and fiancé Warren were among her first clients, and this novel opens to their wedding, a day they have diligently worked to make perfect for Felicity. Bodies tend to show up where Pepper goes, including the events surrounding Warren’s proposal to Felicity and similar.
After the newly married couple leaves the reception, Pepper spends some time with one of the ladies tending bar. Ashley seems to be a genuinely caring young woman who Pepper would enjoy as a friend, or at least a business associate; they discussed various cocktails that may have been popular in the 1940’s and 50’s as Pepper was considering the era as a theme for future proposal events. A veteran of the country club crowd events, Ashley was familiar with some of the more colorful attendees. She had a wisdom beyond her years and the misfortune of enduring terrible headaches. And by the end of the wedding reception, Ashley was dead, possibly from a combination of alcohol and drugs. Pepper wants to find justice and truth for Ashley, so she visits Ashley’s mom and follows the trail of clues all while planning several perfectly unique wedding proposals.
Pepper is a delightfully interesting young woman, as is her new friend, Ashley. They both seem to be very loyal women, as do Pepper’s friends. Neither are taken in by the glitz and glamor of the country club ladies; they are happy to work for the members of the club but remain true to who they are. At least Pepper does, as Ashley’s memories from being shot and near death several years prior are wiped clean. I hated to see Ashley die, as did Pepper. Pepper is very likable, as are some of her clients; other clients are a bit eccentric. The author brings together this eclectic group who fit together into the whole of this delightful yet suspenseful tale.
The plot has been planned and executed with care. I absolutely couldn’t guess who the real bad guy / gal was, and was completely surprised with the outcome. Reading the details of each proposal event and how they were woven into the plot so intricately was amazing! It is a seasoned author who can so well accomplish the feat of sharing how well she knows her subject. I chased a red herring or two amid the plot twists and turns. I do enjoy cozy mysteries that have this perfect balance of suspense, humor, and unique careers or circumstances; this one rocks!
I highly recommend Newlywed Dead to those who enjoy reading mysteries that include unique careers, a fun and lovable protagonist, and suspense that includes a serving of romance. I can’t wait to see who Pepper helps to the path of matrimony in the next Perfect Proposals Mystery!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*