Pros: Strong plot, good characters, laughs
Cons: Summer needs a little maturity
The Bottom Line:
New sleuthing duo
Form delightful partnership
In a fun debut
An Arresting Series Debut
Last year, when I started regularly reading the Chicks on the Case blog, I made sure all of the authors were on my to be read list. Sadly, with the size of the list, I just now read my first book by blog member Lisa Q. Mathews. Cardiac Arrest is the first in her Ladies Smythe and Westin series, and it is safe to say I am hooked.
This series is set in the retirement community of Hibiscus Pointe in Milano, Florida, and stars an unlikely duo. Dorothy Westin is a widow who has lived in the community for years. Summer Smythe is a twenty-something who is squatting in her late grandmother’s condo in the complex while she attempts to figure out her life.
While the pair have met around the complex, what really draws them together is the death of Dr. Anthony Amoretto, better known as Dr. A, the most popular cardiologist in Milano. Summer starts a new job working for him on the day of his death. In fact, she fixes him his morning shake. The police are quick to think she is the prime suspect. Dorothy, meanwhile, was Dr. A’s first patient that morning so she’s on the scene as well. While she was immune to his considerable charm, she also doesn’t think that Summer is a killer, so the two team up to figure out what really happened to him. Can they do it?
Summer and Dorothy really are partners in this book, and that includes point of view. Both take turns as our third person point of view character. It’s always clear when we switch and whose head we are in. This allows us to gather clues with both of them at various times. I really enjoyed this narrative technique, and it served this story perfectly.
Those looking for a strong mystery will not be disappointed. As you’d expect, Dr. A had plenty of secrets and Dorothy and Summer are able to uncover them as the book progresses. I really had no clue where the story was going to go until the pieces fell into place at the end. The climax was creative and suspenseful at the same time.
The characters are interesting as well. Despite the action being centered at a retirement community, they really are quite varied, and I appreciated that. Obviously, Dorothy and Summer are the best developed. I found Summer a bit clueless and reckless at times, but then she’d do something to show she has more depth than I was thinking. I hope that she matures over the course of the series, but this is a minor complaint. Dorothy is a delight – a feisty woman of a certain age.
Some of the characters are a bit over the top, but that’s in keeping with the tone of the book. I enjoyed the comedy that the author worked in here. Summer and Dorothy especially play off each other perfectly, eliciting some of the funniest moments in the book.
I doubt I would have ever found this series if it weren’t for the Chicks on the Case blog, but I’m so glad I did. Cardiac Arrest was a delight from start to finish, and I’m thrilled that the Ladies Smythe and Westin already have two more cases for me to read and enjoy. I’m looking forward to revisiting them soon.