Monday, November 21, 2022

Book Review: Blind Side by Penny Warner (Connor Westphal #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Mostly good mystery, great characters
Cons: Plot could smooth out a bit, language could be cut back some
The Bottom Line:
Frog jumping contest
Is it hotbed for murder?
Jump in and enjoy

Did a Frog Contest Jump Start a Murder?

As a lifelong California resident, I knew that the area where Penny Warner set her Connor Westphal Mysteries was the area of the Sierra Nevadas made famous by Mark Twain’s story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”  So I wasn’t surprised to see that the annual frog jumping event provided part of the backdrop for Blind Side, the fifth in the series.

If you haven’t started the series yet, Connor is a reporter in the fiction town of Flat Skunk.  She runs the weekly Eureka! paper that she inherited from her grandparents.  Oh, and she happens to be deaf.  This is the only book in the series not to some kind of pun related to that in the title, but that’s because she meets a character who is deaf in this book.

As I said, this book opens just hours before the annual frog jumping festival is about to start.  It’s hitting some snags this year in the form of a group of animal rights protestors who are doing their best to shut things down.  However, the big problem comes when Buford the Bullfrog is found dead.  Buford was the best frog that reigning champion Dakota Webster had for this year’s competition.  He is quick to point his finger at Miah Mercer, Connor’s part time assistant at the paper.  The two used to be friends, but their friendship cooled years ago, and Miah was hoping to finally defeat Dakota at this year’s contest.

The stakes are raised when Connor finds a bunch more dead frogs and a dead body in the creek near the contest’s grounds.  Is frog jumping really a hot bed for murder?  Or is something else going on?

This book went off in a couple of different directions rather early, and I’m not completely sure it earned those changes in focus.  Likewise, the ending was a bit abrupt.  While all our questions were answered, it could have been stronger.  But these are mostly mild complaints.  I was completely pulled into the book and engaged, wanting to know what was going to happen next as Connor tried to figure out what was really going on.

Between books four and five, the series changed publishers.  I certainly wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t already know.  The characters and locations felt familiar to me, and I was quickly back into Connor’s world.  I really do love her and the regulars we’ve gotten to know, and the new characters are just as interesting.

I read the paperback that was originally published in 2001.  It’s quite obvious that several things are dated even though the book is only 20 years old thanks to how quickly technology has changed.  As long as you know that going in, you’ll be fine.

This series has always contained more foul language than is in a typical cozy, and that continues here, sadly.  And Connor’s relationship with her boyfriend is just a little bit beyond the usual discrete mentions we get in cozies.  Again, this is mostly a know before you start reading issue.

One thing I love about the series is how it really brings being deaf to life.  I feel like I am deaf while I am reading, and Connor’s ability to handle life is truly remarkable.  Again, I’m sure there are things that have changed since then for the better.  The new character who happens to be blind is just as enlightening.  They share a scene near the end that is a favorite for how well thought out it is and plays to both of their strengths.

As a lover of puns, I appreciate the jokes and puns we got early in the story concerning the frogs and the contest.  Once the plot picks up, that humor drops out, but I think all the jokes that could have been used we’d already seen anyway.

I’m glad I’m finally making the time to read about Connor’s adventures.  They continue to be fun and educational, and Blind Side is no exception.

Enjoy the rest of Connor Westphal’s mysteries.


  1. I always love when a book is set in an area I'm familiar with. Despite the issues this sounds like a fun read!

  2. I love that it features a frog jumping contest!


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