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One Will Too Many
PJ Peterson, author
A young banker with a long list of secret dies due to methanol poisoning. Dr. Julia Fairchild, whose nephew is a deputy sheriff, is first on the scene with the man's girlfriend. Once his death is determined to be a homicide, she is asked to help the police and sheriff identify the who, how, and why.
In the fourth entry in the Julia Fairchild series, Peterson delivers an intricate, conversational mystery with a missing heir, a slew of suspects, and a medical bent appropriate to the hero. Julia, a doctor and amateur sleuth in the Pacific Northwest, gives her new friend Sophia a ride home after a charity gala. But when they find Sophia’s boyfriend, Jay, dead on the floor, Julia can’t help but get on the case. With the help of a nephew on the police force and a lawyer boyfriend, Julia tracks down Jay’s missing half-sister—but is she a suspect or another victim? Julia must put the pieces together and catch the killer before they kill again. And the next target could be Julia herself.

One Will Too Many is a refreshingly no-frills whodunit, stripped of the cute gimmicks of many cozies or the suspenseful action of a thriller, though Julia relishes her peppermint tea and throwing a log into the fireplace. Peterson tells much of the story through dialogue, a sequence of conversations between Julia and her contacts as she teases out clues, motives, and her latest findings. That talk is engaging, and Julia’s clever piecing together of the crime a pleasure, though the narrative’s not particularly urgent–besides having been “practically there when it happened,” Julia doesn’t have a clear compelling reason for cracking this mystery herself. In this outing, she’s somewhat subdued as a character, despite a fascinating career and a love triangle that’s mostly on the backburner.

That said, Peterson brings satisfying detail to Julia’s “serious sleuthing,” with the medical expertise of Julia and her colleagues coming into play more than once, and the niceties of inheritance law and the distilling of grog providing a basis for surprises. This unadorned mystery with a clever protagonist will bring readers on a twisty journey through inheritance law.

Takeaway: A cozy mystery that avoids the quaint, this refreshing change of pace finds a doctor investigating murder.

Great for fans of: Kelly Oliver, Jonathan Gash.

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