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Headlines, Deadlines, and Lies
mickey mikkelson, contributor
“It’s all in the genes, darling!” A witty quip…or a clue? Piper Harrington is set on finding out. As a single mom living in her cozy hometown along Florida’s Gulf Coast, Piper had all but given up on her dream of being a professional writer. So when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity opens up at the small beach town paper where she works, she has to make a split-second decision: Go for it (even if it requires a little fib) or give up a shot at her lifelong goal. To complicate things, in waltzes a worldly crime reporter who is easy to talk to and even easier on the eyes. Add in a demanding editor, alongside a theatrical best friend, a lively family, and co-workers who run the gamut from good-hearted to conniving, and things start getting tricky. Scrambling for a topic that could keep readers hooked, Piper dives into the world of genealogy…something she knows absolutely nothing about. Her mission seems simple enough: learn more about her best friend’s long-lost father, who died at sea before she was born. All Piper has to do is get her BFF to take the home DNA test, enter the results in the Family Found website, and whalaah! Answers gotten, and an article that will practically write itself! Or not. Turns out there’s a missing branch of the family tree that does not want to be found. The question is, why? Will she uncover the well-kept secrets of the past, or get caught up in her own tangle of present-day deceptions? And what happens if her investigation opens up a Pandora’s box that can’t be closed? Find out if Piper can get her name in the headlines, get her story finished by the fast-approaching deadline, and sort out the truth from the lies! What do Bogie & Bacall, a goldfish, and a never-ending mountain of laundry have in common? There’s only one way to find out! If you love a fun, beachy read with a Florida twist on a cozy mystery, plus a lovable female amateur sleuth, then you will have a blast with Headlines Deadlines and Lies, a standalone book in Stephanie LaVigne‘s series, The Sunshine State: Cozy + Crime.
Readers Favorite

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Headlines, Deadlines, and Lies by Stephanie LaVigne is the first book in the Sunshine State: Cozy + Crime series. Life on Florida's Gulf Coast comes with a few surprises. Piper is a single mom of two small children and has just started a job at the local newspaper, but first, she needs to come up with a creative idea for a column that will impress her boss. An idea that will prove she can fill the vacated column and have readers coming back. She finally lands on an idea that sends her into the world of genealogical investigation and into the family history of her best friend. What she thought was a simple investigation leads Piper onto the path of a missing branch of her friend's family tree.

Piper is a grounded character as a single mom searching for a new chapter in her life with a new job and seeking a balance between it and raising two young children. The descriptions of the kids' personalities and their dialogue are well-written with Stephanie LaVigne creating little kids that feel so real you can easily hear them arguing. The mystery revolves around the research Piper does into the genealogical line of her friend Boots and questions in her research lead her to look into Boots' long-lost father. The characters are delightful with a variety that she comes into contact with at the paper such as her editor Gretchen who is a little intimidating, Ernst who is the subject of Boots' ire, and feature writer Martha whose shoes she's filling. Boots is an important character, not just in the story, but in Piper's life with a sweet disposition seen through her writing Obits with the belief that every newly departed person has a right to be remembered as a legend. The handsome crime scene reporter has an instant spark with Piper and creates a potential connection for her since her marriage floundered. Headlines, Deadlines and Lies is a realistic story with charming characters, humorous dialogue, and a unique mystery that delves deep into genealogical research.