Andrews’s extensive cast of quirky characters enhances this cozy mystery, and her quick, clear descriptions unobtrusively bring new readers up to speed about relationships and backstories. The host of likely suspects also lends intensity to the story, while the return of Harley’s crush– Eric Winston, an Ivy League medical pathologist who performs autopsies on the bodies and is, in Harley’s estimation, “out of her league economically, physically, professionally, and socially”– adds welcome sizzle to the lighthearted intrigue. Their longing looks and heated, memorable dialogue will offer strong incentive to readers to pick up the next installment.
The appealing characterization doesn’t end with Notchey Creek’s human residents. Andrews stirs laughs and warmth with her attention to pets, including Harley’s pig Matilda, all decked out for Valentine’s Day; Ozzy, a rescue dog with wheels powering his back legs; and Petie, the often insulting therapy parrot. In crisp, engaging prose, Harley’s methodical clue gathering finds the hero investigating her town’s love triangles and a blackmailing scheme, while Andrews keeps the pages turning with twisty plotting, clever red herrings, and local color as distinct as the recipes for whiskey cocktails that close out the book.
Takeaway: This lighthearted mystery in small town Tennessee blends an amateur sleuth, a splash of romance, and an appealing cast.
Great for fans of: Eve Calder, Maddie Day.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A
A Tennessee whiskey distiller puts her sleuth hat on again in this third installment of a mystery series.
Notchey Creek has seen a lot of drama for a little Appalachian town, and 26-year-old whiskey distiller Harley Henrickson has been in the thick of it, investigating murders and solving mysteries while inventing cocktails. Now, with Valentine’s Day celebrations afoot, several kinds of trouble are stirring up. Harley discovers a burned-out car with a body inside; the sheriff thinks it’s an accidental death, but she’s not so sure. Other conflicts include blackmail, romantic rivalries, and a messy divorce between Ryan and Jessica Westlake, two of the town’s wealthiest residents. Then there’s Ryan’s rumored affair with Bethany Carmichael, 26, who writes devastating reviews of local establishments for the Notchey Creek Telephone, a newspaper owned by Ryan. Jane Merriman blames her husband’s fatal stroke on Bethany’s scathing column, which led to their restaurant’s failure. The latest victims of Bethany’s vitriol are Harley’s best friend, Tina Rizchek, also 26, and her bakery/cafe, Tina’s Treats. When Bethany dies from eating a poisoned cupcake, Tina is the chief suspect—but given the reviewer’s reputation, not the only one. Although it’s a tangled web, Harley is the woman to unravel it. In her latest series entry, Andrews again does a fine job of keeping the mystery’s solution in suspense until the end while offering a charmingly folksy setting and eccentric characters. Harley’s great-uncle and his friend, for example, hope to attract bidders at a bachelor auction by highlighting such skills as “Can pee the alphabet in snow.” The more colorful aspects of Harley’s life (like her fashionista pet pig) are given depth by her intelligent, determined sleuthing as well as romantic yearnings complicated by self-doubts from a painful childhood.
Another twisty, entertaining entry in this cozy series featuring an appealing investigator.
Loving and Dying in Notchey Creek is now available in audiobook format on Audible.