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Nicole Dieker
Author
Ode to Murder

Join Larkin Day on her first mystery!

Larkin Day just moved back home—at 35 years old. With no money, no job prospects, and nowhere to live except her mother's guest bedroom, Larkin is pretty sure this is the worst thing that's ever happened to her.

Then her mother signs her up for community choir.

Then the accompanist asks her out—and stands her up.

Then he turns up dead.

Larkin didn't kill him, of course—but she quickly learns that there are plenty of other women who might have wanted him gone. Although Larkin never planned on becoming an amateur detective, she finds herself getting more and more involved with the death of Harrison Tucker—while making new friends, setting her mother up with a local police officer, tackling six figures of student loan debt, discovering the benefits of protected bike lanes, and learning what ingredients are (and aren't) in a scotcheroo.

A fast-paced, cleverly-plotted mystery that includes both Beethoven and baking, Ode to Murder is for cozy fans who have been hoping to find a Millennial-aged amateur detective who practices old-fashioned sleuthing in a world of smartphones and social media.

Reviews
Dieker (Frugal and the Beast) offers a smart, snarky series kickoff, in which thirty-five-year-old, unemployed, would-be theater director Larkin Day uses her dramatic chops and thespian savviness to corner a killer. Broke and languishing on her parents’ sofa in Iowa, Day joins a community choir rehearsing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” at the insistence of her mother. Day grumpily endures the tedium until she discovers a body—that of Harrison Tucker, the choir’s accompanist, a notorious, flask-toting Lothario. After learning that he may have drugged a young soprano, Day slyly interviews exes and choristers. A confession from an unlikely source doesn’t convince her but leads to a risky hunt for the real murderer.

Each of Dieker’s characters sparkle, such as the soprano who spews inspirational phrases and the cycling-enthusiast financial writer who drinks “poop tea.” Along with Day’s mother, they model satisfying career choices for a confused hero. At first sloppy in her despondency, Day redeems herself with tangible affection for family, a dawning awareness of the value of friendship, and a renewed appreciation for the power of choral performances. Understated romance seasons the subplots, and Larkin’s inner thoughts shine with humor, especially when pertaining to the Midwest. Whether silly—an interpretation of the lyrics “Freude, schöner Götterfunken” as “Freud should get funky”—or snide, Dieker’s shrewd sense of comedy stirs continual laughter.

Day’s unique sleuth skills include classic techniques from an actor’s repertoire—improv’s “yes, and” ethos, body language signaling, and more—the very tools that she wishes she could use to make a living. The motif of theater applied to reality blends with the detective narrative and solidifies into a surprisingly profound finale. Readers will cheer as Day doesn’t just crack the case but finds new goals. This sardonic sleuth delights as she muses about career paths, Iowa pride, and choral masterpieces.

Takeaway: Cozy mystery readers looking for wit in a lively theater milieu will adore Larkin Day.

Great for fans of: Bobbie Raymond’s Dying to Audition, Joelle Charbonneau’s A Chorus Lineup.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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