Saturday, January 9, 2016

Here Today, Gone Tamale

Author:  Rebecca Adler (also writes as Gina Lee Nelson)
Series:  A Taste of Texas Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley

Description:  After losing her newspaper job in Austin and having her former fiancé unfriend her on Facebook, Josie Callahan scoops up her Chihuahua, Lenny, and slinks back to Broken Boot, Texas. Maybe working as head waitress at Milagro—her aunt and uncle’s Tex-Mex restaurant—isn’t exactly living the dream, but it is a fresh start.
And business is booming as tourists pour into Broken Boot for its famous Wild West Festival. But when a local jewelry designer is found strangled outside Milagro after a tamale-making party, Josie’s reporter instincts kick in. As suspects pile up and alibis crack faster than taco shells, Josie needs to wrap up this case tighter than her tía’s tortillas—before another victim calls for the check.

My Review

This is the first book that I have read by this author writing as Rebecca Adler or Gina Lee Nelson.  To be honest, it took longer than usual for me to get into the story.   First books in a series are always a delicate balance between establishing the characters without weighing the reader down with too much back story and providing a good quality mystery.  For me, I think the reason I had such a hard time was that I felt overwhelmed by all of the characters being in one place at the same time right at the start of the book.  I felt a bit overwhelmed at keeping track of who was who. However, as the story progressed and we get to see the cast of characters, either individually or in smaller groups, the story smoothed out for me and the reading became easier.

I thought the story was well written and the author has a very descriptive style that I enjoyed.  The mystery was solid and there was a great cast of suspects to choose from.  To be honest, I really didn't care for the victim in the short amount of time she was in the book so I could see how everyone could become a suspect.  She was the type of character that offends or alienates everyone.  The identity of the killer was a surprise to me but as I reflected back on the book, I could see some hints throughout the story and the reasoning could be plausible, at least for Texas.

I enjoyed most of the characters and once they weren't in one group I was able to see how the author developed their personalities and story lines.  I think that there were a few too many characters and therefore they were not as developed as they could have been. However, this is a first book in the series so the author has the ability to flush out and develop those characters a bit more in further books.  I like when, as a reader, you get to see characters develop and grow throughout a series.  It is what keeps me coming back.

In summary, I thought that this was a solid mystery with good characters.  The series shows promise and I will be returning  to Broken Boot Texas for future installments to catch of with Josie and the rest of the Martinez

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