Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Book Review: A Biscuit, a Casket by Liz Mugavero (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #2)



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Growing characters and cute pets in a strong story
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Dangerous dairy
Searching for clues on the farm
Makes for strong sequel




Corn Maze Corpse

Normally, I don’t have many books to read for Halloween, but this year I wound up with three cozies set during the season.  A Biscuit, a Casket is the last of those, and it appears I saved the best for last.

This is the second in a series that features Kristan “Stan” Connor.  After losing her PR job, she settled in the small town of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, and wound up starting a new business that sells organic, healthy treats for pets.  You’d think that would be a nice, safe occupation and place to live, but you’d most definitely be wrong.

In the few months since she started Pawsitively Organic, Stan has already begun to collect lots of clients.  One of them has even requested that she cater a birthday party for her dog to be held at the dairy farm just down the street a couple of weeks before Halloween.

However, Stan has just started to set up for the event when someone comes running out of the corn maze also on the property.  On the back edge of the maze is the body of the farm’s owner, Hal Hoffman.  As his wife and four sons try to deal with the shock, Stan begins to hear about Hal’s shady deals.  Did one of them get him killed?  Or are the police correct to look at his family?

While I enjoyed the first enough to continue the series, I felt it did have some flaws.  I liked Stan, but her habit of naming theme songs for her day got a little annoying.  That has been scaled back in this book, and I found the songs that popped into her head for certain scenes to be enjoyable, the way it’s supposed to be.  She’s definitely grown stronger as a character, and I enjoyed watching her settle into her new life more here.  The rest of the returning characters are fun again as well, and the new characters display some great depth that makes us care about the outcome.

The first book read much like the pilot of the TV series – introducing characters and setting up Stan’s new situation.  Those are often my least favorite episodes of a series because they can be slow, and I felt that did slow down the first book, too.  I’m happy to say with that introduction out of the way, the pacing of the mystery was much better here.  There are a few sub-plots introduced along the way, but they only enhance the book overall.  Yet the pace is never so fast that we aren’t given time to see how the events in the story are effecting the characters, especially the Hoffman family.  I loved those scenes because they truly added some depth normally not found in the cozies I enjoy.  Everything led up to a climax that once again surprised me and had me turning pages trying to figure out how Stan would survive.

The first book had included some sub-plots and relationships that were left unresolved to carry over through the series.  I was happy to see they were not only continued here but we made great progress in working toward resolutions.  With how things were left, I’m very interested to see where these things lead in the next book.

Recipes for two of Stan’s treats are included in the back of the book.  Since I don’t have pets (I’m allergic), I won’t be trying them, although they do sound pretty good even to me.

I was sad when I turned the last page of A Biscuit, a Casket, and I’m already looking forward to my next visit to Frog Ledge.  If you are looking for a fun cozy mystery with lots of cute pets, this series is definitely for you.

From here, you'll want to check out more of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries in order.

2 comments:

  1. This sounds good but from the sounds of it I wouldn't have got past the first book. I wonder if I could just skip it and start with this one?

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    1. You could. There are no major spoilers.

      But it sounds like I've given a bad impression of the first book. I liked it, or I wouldn't have read this one. This one is just stronger, and the first is fresh enough in my mind that I can clearly articulate why. That's all I was trying to say.

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