Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Complex mystery with strong characters
Cons: A few minor issues near the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Bodies in garage
Case hits close to home for Liv
In this strong debut
This Debut Doesn’t Crash at All
Who doesn’t love a good party? A chance to hang out with friends and have fun? I’m in. Of course, in a cozy mystery series that means there has to be a dead body or two involved, and that’s what happens in Death Crashes the Party, the first Liv and Di in Dixie mystery from Vickie Fee.
As the book opens, party planner Liv McKay is having another disastrous meetings with some difficult clients. They are planning a 40th Anniversary party incorporating two very different themes, and Liv is struggling to make them both work. When the trio go to the garage to double check on freezer space, they find a dead man in the freezer. When the husband backs up in surprise, he bumps a garbage can and a second dead body spills out.
The dead men are brothers, both of whom worked for Liv’s husband and father-in-law at McKay Trucking. With rumors and the police circling the company, Liv and her best friend Di Souther attempt to find the truth. But their investigation uncovers secrets that hit close to home. What is going on?
Based on the cozies I’ve read in the past, I thought I knew what to expect from the setup of this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. While Liv and Di are best friends, they don’t actually work together. Also, they are in their mid-30’s, with Liv being happily married. These may be little twists on a cozy series set up, but I appreciated it.
Having said that, I did feel the beginning of the book could have been a bit smoother. We didn’t always get explanations of people mentioned and their relationships as Liv was talking to various people. However, it didn’t take me too long to fully grasp the relationships between the characters.
And what great characters they are. This may be a first book, but we’ve already got a strong set of characters that surround Liv and Di. I can easily see they will be entertaining me for a long time to come. Liv is our viewpoint character, so it’s not surprise that these characters are closest to her, but I can see that changing as the series continues. I especially enjoyed Liv’s relationship with her husband, Larry Joe. While the two do have some issues as the book goes along, they obviously deeply love each other.
I was a bit concerned early on when it appeared that Liv was taking a bit of a hands off approach to the mystery, mainly learning about things second hand. But my fears were quickly put to rest. When Liv realizes just what might be at stake, she begins to be a much more active detective, unearthing some surprises along the way to the logical climax. I also appreciated some of the consequences of her actions. Once Liv fully jumped into the case, I didn’t want to put the book down.
And there’s a bit of humor in this book, mostly from some of the characters we meet along the way. I got some great grins and laughs as the book went along.
Liv actually hosts two parties in this book, and we get party planning tips based on both of them at the back of this book.