Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Book Review: Sign of Foul Play by Penny Warner (Connor Westphal #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and mystery
Cons: Some elements put it on the edge of cozy
The Bottom Line:
Construction site death
Was it caused by an earthquake?
Twisty mystery

All Signs Point to a Winner

I don’t know how people in other parts of the country feel, but I’ll admit, I roll my eyes a bit when I read a book or watch a show set in California that deals with an earthquake.  I’m not sure why since earthquakes aren’t that common in fiction when I stop and think about it.  However, I’ve got to say the earthquake set up in Sign of Foul Play quickly won me over.

If you’ve missed this series, Connor Westphal runs a small, weekly paper in the touristy town of Flat Skunk, California.  The town is in gold country in the Northern California Sierra Nevada foothills.  It’s a small town with plenty of intrigue.

The thing that sets Connor apart from most cozy sleuths is that she is deaf.  Fortunately, she is very adept at reading lips, but it adds an extra element to the series, and I really enjoy learning more about how she excels despite being deaf while reading the books.

Two earthquakes in the middle of the night made it hard for Connor to sleep.  However, she is going about her Monday morning when she gets a message from her friend Dan telling her there is a news story at the construction site he is working at.  When Connor arrives, she finds that someone has discovered the dead body of Cullen Delancy.  The working theory is that he fell to his death when the earthquake struck, but what was he doing on the site in the middle of the night?

As you can see, the earthquake plays a very important part of the set up of the mystery, and I quickly got on board with the premise.  It’s a great mystery with twists and turns that kept me engaged.  I did figure a few things out before Connor did, but much of it was still a surprise to me when she pieced things together.

Connor is a fantastic sleuth.  She’s strong, determined, and gets into plenty of danger no matter what she tries to do to stay safe.  I really am glad to revisited her.  There are only a few characters back from the first book, but I enjoyed seeing them again here, and seeing their relationships with Connor grow.  Meanwhile, the suspects are all strong.

The book is slightly edgy for a cozy.  A couple of scenes could have been toned down, there are a handful of four letter words, and one twist is a bit dark.  Keep all this in mind and you’ll be fine.

This book was originally published in 1998.  As a result, Connor doesn’t have a cell phone to text people but must rely on TTY phones and she can only check her email on her computer.  Can you believe how much our lives have changed in the past 20-something years?

Sign of Foul Play is a wonderful second book in this creative series.  I’m glad I have picked these books up again and look forward to my next visit with Connor.

Be sure to pick up the rest of the Connor Westphal mysteries.

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