Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters; fast paced mystery
Cons: Didn’t buy the MacGuffin; timeline issues.
The Bottom Line:
Stella finds danger
Follows her home from Paris
Stella Returns Home with an Unexpected Souvenir – Danger
One thing that will draw me to a cozy series is the location. If we’ve got an area known as a vacation destination, then I want to visit via the page since it feels like a mini-vacation for me. That’s why I was drawn to the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries originally, and that’s what we get with Murder Makes Scents, the second in the series.
However, the book opens in another vacation destination – Paris. Stella Wright is taking a break from the Wick & Flame, her candle shop on Nantucket, to attend a perfume conference with her mother, Millie, who is one of the speakers. The conference ends abruptly, however, when Stella and Millie are part of a crowd that witnesses a man being stabbed right in front of them. After being questioned by the police, they return home to the island, assuming their only connection to the crime is behind them. Stella quickly begins to think that trouble has followed them home. Is she correct? What might their connection to the murder be?
When I first heard this book was going to start in Paris and then conclude on Nantucket, I was a bit worried. Would the pacing be good? Would the plot work on two different continents? I was quickly caught up in the events in Paris, and it didn’t take long for us to be just as engrossed in what was happening when the duo return home.
It’s not a spoiler to say that the plot revolves around a MacGuffin, a literary term for the thing that ignites the plot. (No, I’m not going to tell you what it is in this case.) This is where I had my biggest issue with the book. I just found the item and what it was going to be used for hard to believe. I wanted to buy into that aspect of the book. I really did. But I just couldn’t turn off the logical part of my brain that was asking too many whys and hows about it.
Despite this, I still got caught up in the plot because the stakes are personal for Stella. I plowed through the book in just a couple of days because I needed to know what was going on and who was responsible. Stella’s investigation kept uncovering suspicious behavior, but it was all explained in the end. The climax was a bit over the top, but it felt like it fit in with the rest of the book.
We don’t spend as much time with some of the people from Stella’s life we met in the previous book, but I enjoyed the time we did get to spend with them, and it makes sense given the plot of the book. We do, however, see plenty of her suspects, and they do their part perfectly by acting suspicious while still appearing to be nice people who would never commit a crime.
Being the timeline stickler I am, I do have to point out that Stella couldn’t seem to keep track of when various events in the book took place. Sometimes, she got it right, and others she had it wrong. A lot happens in a little bit of time. I guess that combined with her jet lag made her lose track of time. It doesn’t affect the plot, just annoyed me.
The book has a couple of extras. Being a candle themed mystery, we get some quick notes about making candle molds. Then there’s a delicious sounding recipe for a cranberry pie. It’s not quite cranberry season right now, but this is definitely one to remember come fall.
Murder Makes Scents will leave you burning the midnight candle to find out how it ends. Even with my issues, I was glad I read it.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.