Three Treats Too Many
Sarah Blair Mystery #3
By Debra H. Goldstein
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
When a romantic rival opens a competing restaurant in small-town Wheaton, Alabama, Sarah Blair discovers murder is the specialty of the house . . .
For someone whose greatest culinary skill is ordering takeout, Sarah never expected to be co-owner of a restaurant. Even her Siamese cat, RahRah, seems to be looking at her differently. But while Sarah and her twin sister, Chef Emily, are tangled up in red tape waiting for the building inspector to get around to them, an attention-stealing new establishment–run by none other than Sarah’s late ex-husband’s mistress, Jane–is having its grand opening across the street.
Jane’s new sous chef, Riley Miller, is the talk of Wheaton with her delicious vegan specialties. When Riley is found dead outside the restaurant with Sarah’s friend, Jacob, kneeling over her, the former line cook–whose infatuation with Riley was no secret–becomes the prime suspect. Now Sarah must turn up the heat on the real culprit, who has no reservations about committing cold-blooded murder . . .
Includes quick and easy recipes! (From Goodreads)
It was great fun to visit Sarah, her family, and friends again in Alabama! I especially enjoyed seeing how her pets, RahRah, her late mother-in-law’s cat, and Fluffy, a former neighbor’s dog, are getting along together. This story invited me in on the first page and kept me engaged throughout. The mysteries were quite difficult to solve; I was completely surprised to learn who the real bad guy was and why!
Sarah’s confidence in and acceptance of herself has grown since her divorce from her now-late ex-husband. She is a partner in her twin sister Emily’s and Emily’s boyfriend Marcus’s new venture, Southwind, which will open as soon as the final inspection is complete. Sarah’s skills continue to improve as a receptionist/ assistant to her boss Harlan, an attorney, and they both volunteer regularly at the local animal shelter. The only twinges of discomfort she has is whether Cliff, the man she is dating has the same intentions toward her as she has for him.
It is past time for the new Southwind white tablecloth restaurant to open, and Botts, the inspector, pleads that his workload has caused the delay. The competition, Jane’s Place, skated through all their inspections and is celebrating a very successful grand opening. Jane once worked for Sarah, Emily’s twin, but her cooking isn’t what attracts customers to the restaurant. Riley, a recent culinary school grad, is her star chef. She brings a highly sought-after repertoire of vegan recipes that have customers all over Wheaton talking about Jane’s Place.
Jane herself is one of Sarah’s least favorite people, having had an affair with Sarah’s late ex that caused their divorce. She tried to take RahRah from her, but RahRah, bless his sweet feline heart, wouldn’t cooperate. Attending the open house at Jane’s Place wasn’t the highlight of Sarah’s week, but it was necessary. Emily and Marcus are the chefs at Southwind, as Sarah is as cooking challenged as I am. By the end of the evening, however, Riley was dead in the parking lot from what appeared to be a broken neck. The acting chief of police, Dwayne Gerard, had one suspect. Jacob, a close friend of Sarah and former boyfriend of Riley, was kneeling by Riley’s body, in shock. The chief sees Jacob’s motive as Riley having tossed him aside for the building inspector, Botts, with the means being his hands from years of martial arts training.
Jacob’s sister Anne and their friend Eloise ask Sarah to look into the murder, as she has already helped solve two in recent months. Sarah feels that her discoveries in those murders were lucky guesses, and Harlan doesn’t want her involved in another investigation for her own safety. This time, as Jacob’s lawyer, Harlan absolutely doesn’t want her “help” as he has his own methods of working to defend or clear his clients. Most people who know Jacob and Riley want to help clear him, including the people in the motorcycle club he is a member of. When another murder occurs and Jacob is being considered for that, the stakes skyrocket, and Sarah can’t quite let go of it.
The characters are an eclectic mix of folks who are defined very well. Learning more about Eloise has been a delight; I would have never pictured her riding her own motorcycle! Nor did I anticipate there being a local motorcycle club for people who like to ride together for fun and to raise money for charities in Wheaton. It is a pleasure to watch Sarah blossom in all areas of her life, even if I don’t always agree with her impulsive actions when trying to find a killer.
There are fascinating plot twists that kept me hopping and changing suspects! The author shared about the motorcycles and accessories that were part of the story and explained everything very well. There were a couple things about vegan cooking I was unaware of before. Sarah’s interactions with RahRah and Fluffy are spot on to demonstrate how close we can be with our companion pets. While there is a spot of romance, it is just enough to enhance rather than detract from the story. Not one of the people I suspected was the bad guy! The killer(s) was absolutely not on my radar at all! There were surprises at the end, which was very satisfying. I highly recommend this novel and series!