Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Enjoyable protagonist and story
Cons: Believably, slow to start
The Bottom Line:
An offbeat cozy
Took some time but grew on me
Glad I gave a chance
Debut that Grew on Me
While Left Coast Crime only lasted one day this year, it still worked to increase my to be read pile. One of the books that caught my interest was Cozy Up to Death, the first in a new series from Colin Conway that was touted as a twist on the cozy mystery.
Today is Brody Steele’s first day as the owner of The Red Herring, a mystery bookstore located in Pleasant Valley, Maine. Pleasant Valley is a small town on the coast not far from the boarder with New Hampshire. It’s a quiet and peaceful town where nothing really happens.
So far, this is sounding like a typical cozy mystery, right? Here’s the twist, Brody hasn’t read a book in years and knows nothing about mysteries. So why is he the new owner of The Red Herring? The business is really a cover business for those in the Witness Protection Program. Brody isn’t even his real name. He’s in the program because he recently turned on his old motorcycle gang, ratting them out for some of the crimes they’ve committed in order to avoid jail time himself.
Brody isn’t happy with the idea of living in this quiet a town, but he quickly finds it growing on him. However, he also finds himself beginning to be filled with questions, chief among them what happened to the previous owner of the bookstore. Is he truly safe here?
This is one of those books that started out slowly. There are a few plot threads early on in the book, but it takes a while for Brody to realize anything is wrong. He’s too busy contemplating his new life. I did enjoy the character growth we saw in him over the course of the novel.
And once the story gets going, I got hooked. There’s actually quite a bit bubbling under the surface, and as Brody begins to realize that, things get very interesting. I couldn’t put the book down. It helps that Brody begins to meet a few people in town, and they come across just as real as he does, helping draw us into the story.
Even so, I do have a few nits to pick with the book. The writing could be a bit more polished. It worked to hook me on the story, but it could have been stronger. Also, the Witness Protection Program, as described here, wasn’t completely believable for me. Then again, all I truly know about it I learned from the TV show In Plain Sight, so I’m judging one fictional story based on another. I was having so much fun reading the book that I decided to just go with the story. Besides, I haven’t done the research to know where the author took creative liberties.
While the series is called the Cozy Up Series, this book does get more violent than a cozy. Brody gets involved with several fights. As far as language and sex go, this book is still clean.
Overall, I was glad I gave Cozy Up to Death a chance, and I’m very curious to see where the series goes from here.