Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie
*Beware of Spoilers*
Nestled in the barrier islands of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers Beach is home to Mary “Sassy” Cabot and Bridget Mayfield—owners of the bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat. But when they’re not dishing about books or serving up scones, Sassy and Bridgy are keeping tabs on hard-boiled murder.
Read ’Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, a regular at the Emily Dickinson table. Augusta’s cousin and best friend Delia is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.
No one is more distraught than Augusta, and Sassy wants to help any way she can. But Augusta doesn’t have time for sympathy. She wants Delia’s killer found—and she’s not taking no for an answer. Now Sassy is on the case, and she’d better act fast before there’s any more trouble in paradise.
Includes a buttermilk pie recipe! (from Goodreads, Back Cover)
This is a great book! I truly enjoyed this first novel in the new cozy series, A Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery! Kudos to Terrie Farley Moran on her first full-length novel, who has proven her writing skills with short stories and wows everyone with this offering.
First, I really like the concept – a bookstore and cafe combined into one place, the Read ‘Em and Eat. Served up in unique style are a variety of pastries or fast, tasty sandwiches (many named after books turned into novels or well-known authors). Book clubs hold regular meetings there, (such as Potluck Book Club) and some folks insist on sitting at the same table every day (such as Judge Harcroft at the Dashiell Hammett table). Owners Bridgy Mayfield and Sassy (Mary Sassafras) Cabot have a thriving business that is well-liked by their regular clientele and tourists alike in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. It is the kind of place I wish was in my neighborhood!
The opening introduces the reader to some of the regulars squabbling at the Books Before Breakfast Club, then Miguel, chef extraordinaire, falling from a ladder and breaking his leg, rendering him unable to cook for several weeks. Deputy Ryan Mantoni arrives at the cafe as one of the first responders for the accident, introducing his new lieutenant, Frank Anthony.
The following day, Bridgy’s Aunt Ophie comes to fill in as chef. She enjoys getting to know the customers, but tries to change how the regular dishes are prepared. Elderly Miss Augusta, one of the regulars, arrives without her cousin, Miss Delia, which almost never occurs as one rarely sees one without the other. While Ophie introduces Miss Augusta to her version of iced tea, Sassy has a surprise visit from her friend, Cady Stanton, newspaper reporter. He beckoned her outdoors where he told her the terrible news – Miss Delia was discovered dead in her home by the mailman, and the Sheriff’s Department was looking for Miss Augusta. The sad news was given to her, and Sassy began to help her with her needs. Deputy Ryan and Lieutenant Frank later broke the news that Miss Delia had been murdered – yet it is Sassy to whom Miss Augusta directs her request to find whoever killed her beloved cousin.
Well Read, then Dead is a triumphant first novel with a plot that continues to twist and turn as first one, then another suspect is checked out by Sassy and Bridgy even as they are discouraged by Cady, Ryan and Frank. Sassy diligently helps Miss Augusta with the necessary tasks of funeral preparations, finding Miss Delia’s cat, Bow, and finding a home that the cat would find comfortable. Risking her own life, Sassy is led through labyrinthine paths to the murderer – yet will she survive to tell the tale?
This mystery was very well planned with enough twists that kept this reader happily on her toes. The characters are a delightful mix from the very prim and proper to the eccentric. Each are three-dimensional folks that you could expect to find in Any Small Town, USA. Generations-old secrets are as plentiful as the potential suspects, making the resolution of death by murder somewhat like putting together a puzzle while some of the pieces are hidden in other people’s pockets.
The cover designer is a whiz, lending an alluring scene of the story inside while asking the reader to ‘come in and set a spell, enjoy a pastry and buy a good book.’ While I’m not sure how many words are in this mystery, the art is definitely worth at least a thousand words!
I highly recommend this novel to young adults and adults of any age who enjoy mysteries with a small community filled with friends, a unique cafe with book lovers, and even the pets who accompany them. It received rave pre-publication reviews by notable cozy mystery writers – and even one of my cats gave its approval – as when I retrieved it to finish reading, there were a few bite marks from a happy cat which have not been left in the past! If Well Read, then Dead is any indicator, the next offering in this series is sure to be an even greater delight!
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour!*