Soul of a Killer
Books & Biscuits Mystery #2
By Abby Collette
Author Website: abbyvandiver(.)com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
In this mouthwatering cozy mystery series, fraternal twins Keaton and Koby know running a combined bookstore and soul food café is tricky, but when it comes to solving murders, it’s do or dine.
Keaton and Koby are fraternal twins who were separated as children, but now they’ve found each other and opened Books & Biscuits in the pleasant Pacific Northwest town of Timber Lake. Business is booming. But the course of bookselling never did run smooth.
Mama Zola, Koby’s devoted foster mom, has taken up residence in Timber Lake. She and Pete, one of the bookstore’s quirky employees, bring a peach cobbler over to a local bible study group, and there they discover the body of someone that both of them have recently quarreled with. They find themselves suspects in the murder, but luckily Koby and Keaton are ready to sling out a side of justice. (Goodreads)
This is a fun, fast-paced addition to a series that appeals to those of us who enjoy bookstores and cats and/ or specialty cafes and dogs. It captured and held my attention from the beginning and throughout. The mystery was very well plotted and kept me guessing until almost the very end.
Fraternal twins Koby and Keaton had been given up by their mother when they were two years old. Keaton was fortunate to be adopted by a loving couple soon afterwards but didn’t remember she had a twin. Koby had gone from one foster or group home to another until he met Mama Zola. When he learned he had a twin sister, he began to put together a plan to find her. Reunited as adults, they just opened a unique store, Books & Biscuits. Keaton has always loved to read, so opening a bookstore was perfect. Koby learned how to cook from Mama Zola, the foster mom who was like a real mother to him. The Biscuits part of the store is a soul food café, with biscuits being his specialty.
Mama Zola is thrilled to be cooking with Koby and creates a signature dish, soul rolls, that outshines even Koby’s biscuits. She recently moved to Timber Lake, the town the store is in, and found a church she wants to join. She has been cooking since 3 AM, making foods to take to the church Founder’s Day potluck. Pete, Keaton’s assistant on the bookstore side, went with Zola to help her set up and serve at the potluck. Within a few short hours, Zola called Koby. She may be arrested for killing someone, and by the end of the day, the acting chief of police prefers to railroad Pete to prison.
The victim is Austin James, former preacher at a megachurch he started that ended up shutting its doors. Austin had gone to prison for fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement at the huge trading firm where he, Pete, and Zola’s pastor, Calvin Lee used to work. It was suspected some of the money to start the megachurch was funneled from the funds Austin had managed. The former preacher died because of an older coffee maker rigged to a frayed cord by someone who knew Austin had a pacemaker, how to set the trap, and how much Austin loved coffee.
Pete had once been in prison because of working with Austin at the trading firm, and it cost him his wife, children, and reputation. The acting police chief is certain Pete is guilty partly to get revenge for those losses, never considering the many people whose retirement accounts were taken by Austin. Koby is determined to not let Pete go down for something he didn’t do. Keaton is much more amenable to helping solve this mystery than the last one they were involved in and discovered she is getting good at it. “Koby and I are living a cozy mystery” was a sobering thought, however, when remembering she was almost killed when they tracked a killer just weeks earlier. She believes in Pete’s innocence as much as Zola and her twin do.
The author has crafted a delightful variety of personalities for both principal and one-time characters. Keaton and Koby are my favorites. They have the twin telepathy thing going on. Keaton and I have a couple things in common, one being that we prefer books to cooking. Like me, she also enjoys cats but unlike me, she has only one. Koby’s dogged determination in finding his twin and his background from being in group homes and on the street make him very understanding in employee relations and at helping others.
I appreciate that the twins are primarily focused on their family, and that for them, family includes those related by choice rather than blood. Working on building their new business is also a priority, and for Koby especially, finding their finding their birth mother is their current, ongoing challenge. Looking for Mr. or Miss Right doesn’t figure into the equation yet, and that is admirable.
The plot has a variety of twists and turns, especially when, as Keaton said, there could literally be thousands of people with motive to kill Austin. My guess list kept changing until almost the very end. I finally had a good idea who the bad guy was but took no pleasure in being right. I highly recommend this cozy mystery, and this series! I hope this series will be around for the long haul, as it has almost every element I enjoy in a cozy mystery.