A Friend in Death
A new mystery series from Laura Bradford is always a reason to celebrate, so as soon as I heard about A Plus One for Murder, the first in her new A Friend for Hire mystery series, I put it on my list. I wasn’t disappointed.
Emma Westlake is watching her small business as a travel agent die thanks to the internet. When an elderly friend first suggests that Emma start a new business as a paid companion, she dismisses it. But then, figuring she has nothing to lose, she gives it a try.
One of her first clients is Brian Hill, a local writer who has a reputation for being a bit of a conspiracy theorist. He wants Emma to be his cheering section at an open mike night where he intends to read a new poem he’s written. Emma doesn’t think the crowd will be that tough, but a job is a job. To her horror, Brian doesn’t get too far into his poem before he dies on stage – literally. Suddenly, his insistence that there were people in the room who wanted to kill him seems far from a laughing matter. Emma feels she owes it to Brian to figure out what really happened to him. With the help of a couple of her friends, can she do it?
Since this is the first book in the series, it has the job of setting up Emma’s new profession as well as giving us a murder to solve. I was impressed with how the book balanced that, especially in the beginning. The plot only gets stronger as we get further into the book and Emma begins to uncover the secrets Brian was going to expose. And yes, the climax perfectly explains everything that has come before.
The cast is filled with a colorful selection of characters, and I enjoyed getting to know them. I did find Dottie, the friend that starts Emma on this new venture, a bit overbearing at times, but that was minor. Stephanie, another of Emma’s friends we meet here, quickly turned into a wonderful character. Plus, there’s Emma’s dog and hints of romance. No surprise given the series theme of friendship, but the bonds between these characters was wonderful.
Which I think is one thing I really liked about this book. It shows the importance and power of friendship. In a time when we have all been isolated more than we are used to, I know I am appreciating my friends so much more. The relationships here may be new, but they are already showing signs of becoming strong bonds, and I can’t wait to see how these relationships grow as the series progresses.
I can’t leave out the humor. No, this isn’t a laugh a page kind of book, but there are some very funny passages and lines.
I often talk about the characters in cozy mysteries becoming friends. These characters are fast on their way to becoming friends for me. And all it takes to hire them for yourself is purchasing A Plus One for Murder. You’ll be very glad you did.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.