July is National Ice Cream Month. With that in mind, when Pint of No Return, the first Shake Shop Mystery from Dana Mentink crossed my radar, I knew I had to enjoy it this month.
Trinidad Jones has just gone through a divorce from a man she thought she loved but didn’t know at all. Turned out he was thrice-married and an embezzler. Now, he’s in prison, and all he’s left her is a storefront in the small town of Upper Sprocket, Oregon, his home town. Despite the fact that both of his other ex-wives are also in town, Trinidad decides to move there and open her dream shop – a place called Shimmy and Shake Shop. She intends to make her own home-made ice cream and create mammoth shakes.
Since getting the shop ready to open has taken up most of her time, she hasn’t spent too much time getting to know anyone in town. One of the few people she has met is Kevin Heartly, the man who owns the gourmet popcorn shop opposite her new store. One afternoon, she finds Kevin dead in the back of his shop. The police are quick to zero in on Juliette, one of Trinidad’s fellow ex-wives. She just met Juliette, but she doesn’t think the woman is a killer. Can Trinidad trust her instincts? If she is right, can she free Juliette?
I was at once drawn into this book but also felt a little on the outside. Let me explain. While the setting came to life, I felt like it was missing some details to make it fully real. For example, we learn early on that Trinidad intends to open her shop on July Fourth, but we don’t get any idea how far away that is. You know me and timelines, but that is just one example. Still, it was those little things that kept me from fully getting lost in the world.
On the other hand, the characters are fantastic. Is Trinidad’s relationship with Juliette believable? Maybe or maybe not in real life, but I completely bought it in this book. Trinidad is still meeting people, so as she gets to know those people, we do to. And I loved those relationships. The people helped draw me into the book more than anything else, and I loved spending time with them.
The plot is good. The pacing was a bit off at times, but it all came together at the end and kept my interest as I read.
The book does a good job of balancing the tone. At times, it is light and fluffy like newly mixed-up ice cream. But it has more serious moments, too. It holds together very well.
I enjoyed the slight twist on the classic cozy set up. Trinidad may be starting her life over again after some disappointments and setbacks, but she didn’t run home. I’m interested to see how that choice plays out in future books.
Of course, there are plenty of scenes involving ice cream. I love ice cream, so my mouth was watering as I read. If you enjoy ice cream, too, you’ll want to sample the key lime ice cream recipe at the end of the book.
Pint of No Return is a solid debut. I will definitely be back to visit these new friends again.
I bought a copy of this book and then won one in a giveaway, so I’m passing my spare copy on to someone. To enter the giveaway, leave me a comment telling me your favorite flavor of ice cream and your email address. Since this is a physical copy, US only please. I’ll pick a winner on July 14th, so enter before then.