Needing a change one day, as I sometimes crave a calming walk in the green countryside, I picked up cosy mystery A Deadly Discovery by JC Penney. Knowing the book was fourth in a series, I didn’t know what to expect.
Literary agent Allie Cobb lives in Rushing Creek, Indiana where her life revolves around her clients, their manuscripts, taking her cat Ursi for a walk, family and friends. Having previously investigated local murders, and being injured in the process, before this book starts Allie had promised her nearest and dearest that she would drop her private investigating. But when a body turns up in the local woods, everyone wonders if it could be a girl who disappeared twenty ago. As Allie asks questions around town, tensions with the police department arise with suspicions of clues missed at the time of the original disappearance.
This is a different style of whodunnit in that the story is firmly anchored and clues processed in the head of detective Allie. This is a tell-don’t-show style that sinks us into Allie’s daily life and concerns, the reader must unravel the clues from the seemingly ordinary. Of course this is a mystery story so clues, and red herrings, can be anywhere.
Diving into a series mid-way has its benefits and issues. I’m sure I missed lots of references to characters and past stories that would help my reading of Allie’s detecting and understanding of Rushing Creek. From page one a lot of names and relationships are introduced, featured in the previous novels, that I struggled to remember. A character cast at the beginning would help.
Kenney has created a believable small-town world at Rushing Creek where lives, secrets, resentments and loves have been entwined since birth. It reminded me of Charlotte Hinger’s Lottie Albright genealogical mystery series, set in another American small town. When everyone knows everyone else, secrets are not simply embarrassing or shameful. They can be deadly.
An easy, gentle read without a confusing tangle of multiple suspects. I guessed the murderer well before Allie’s big reveal scene, which owed much to the trend of Poirot. I finished it feeling curiously unattached from the people involved, perhaps because Allie dominates the story so thoroughly.
BUY THE BOOK
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A DEADLY DISCOVERY by @JCKenney1 #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-5lg via @SandraDanby