Two Bites Too Many
Sarah Blair Mystery #2
By Debra H. Goldstein
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
Far from a domestic goddess, Sarah Blair would rather catch bad guys than slave over a hot stove. But when a dangerous murder boils over in Wheaton, Alabama, catching the killer means leaving her comfort zone …
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her modest law firm receptionist job and–if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts–lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end …
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands–the Blair girls’ sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block? (From Goodreads)
This second offering in the Sarah Blair Mystery series is riveting; I really enjoyed it! We get to know Sarah, her twin Emily, and their mother, Maybelle, better than before. It is good to see Sarah enjoying her life with RahRah, the lovable Siamese she inherited from her former mother-in-law and living in the carriage house provided for him in her will. The locked room mystery is challenging, and the setting that includes the first unique YipYeow Day is delightful!
Sarah and Maybelle are going to see Lance, the president of the bank they have dealt with for years. He recently turned down a loan application from Emily and her boyfriend, Marcus that was 100% guaranteed by Maybelle. They were finishing the buildout of Southwind Pub, which had previously been their restaurant until a fire destroyed it. It would also fund the conversion of the big house on Sarah’s property into an upscale Southwind restaurant once rezoning is approved.
They talk with the delightfully eccentric George, who lives across the street from Sarah. Someone knocked down parts of his fence during the night and some finials from Sarah’s fence. Maybelle put one of the finials into her enormous handbag so they could get replacement. George is looking for a sweet, stray dog he has been feeding that he calls Fluffy, and Sarah promises to help him look for her.
Their appointment with Lance was delayed as two men were in his office. One was irate, as the bank had pulled the loan he had on the cabin he was building on his land. As he left, he threatened Lance. A successful contractor, there was no more reason for his loan being pulled than there was for Emily and Marcus’ loan being rejected. After Maybelle speaks with Lance, he agrees to review the application in case Bailey, the loan officer, made an error. Sarah went to the city council meeting where they hoped to get zoning approval for the new restaurant while Maybelle awaited the outcome of the review.
Maybelle went around the bank to the alley entrance to Lance’s office, which they always used when her husband was still alive. The door to Lance’s office was ajar, and it looked like Lance’s head was on his desk as a child might if resting. To her horror, she saw that Lance was dead, with a huge wound on the back of his head.
Acting Police Chief Dwayne Gerard is eager to close the case so he will have a chance to get the position permanently. Maybelle found Lance, and her fingerprints are the only ones on the finial from Sarah’s fence found on the floor behind Lance. He is ready to arrest one of the town’s leading citizens for a murder she did not commit.
Sarah helped solve a murder a few months ago when it seemed the police weren’t doing a good job. Specifically, then-Sergeant Dwayne Gerard. She is not ready to find another killer, but this is her mom – and she might have no choice but to look for another killer to protect Maybelle.
Sarah’s hands are full between her job, getting committees set up for YipYeow Day to benefit the local animal shelter with the pets on parade, hopeful pet adoptions, and now, a Blessing the Beasts service at a nearby church. Emily also needs her help as a server. Emily is doing a 6-month executive chef position at The Howellian Hotel in nearby Birmingham. The owner, Thomas, is charming and complimentary, and this job will help pay for some additional renovations needed at the Pub. The Howellian is competition with their proposed upscale restaurant as well as their catering business.
One thing I liked about Sarah from the start is that her cooking ability is similar to mine. Another is her love of animals, especially cats and her volunteer work at the shelter. I also like George. Even though he didn’t like the idea of turning her big house into an upscale restaurant, he is a good, conscientious neighbor who genuinely cares about his family, neighbors, and potential pets. I hope to see more of him in the future. Eloise, Lance’s secretary, is someone I also like. She is a hard worker, organized, and someone I hope to see more of, also.
This mystery kept me on my toes. Plot twists keep the story moving quickly and made me wish my brain were more nimble! This series is going in a very positive direction; I really liked the first in series, and this one even better. The mystery absolutely had me stumped. Even when I narrowed it down to two people, new clues almost brought more back to the list. There were certainly surprises at the end, including some of the motives and scheming. The ending is overall satisfactory despite my sadness at part of the outcome for one person. I highly recommend this cozy mystery!