Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kernel of Truth

Author:  Kristi Abbott
Series:  Popcorn Shop Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley Prime Crime
Published:  March 2016

Description:  Opening a gourmet popcorn shop was never on Rebecca Anderson’s bucket list. But after a failed marriage to a celebrity chef, she’s ready for her life to open up and expand. She has returned to her hometown of Grand Lake, Ohio, with her popcorn-loving poodle Sprocket to start a new business—naturally called POPS. As a delicious bonus, Cordelia “Coco” Bittles, a close family friend who has always been like a grandmother to Rebecca, owns the chocolate shop next door, and the two are thinking of combining their businesses.
But when Coco’s niece, Alice, discovers her on the floor of her chocolate shop, those dreams go up in smoke. The local sheriff thinks Coco was the victim of a robbery gone wrong, but Rebecca isn’t so sure. As suspects start popping up all over, Rebecca is determined to turn up the heat and bring the killer to justice in a jiffy!

My Review

This is the first in a new series by author Kristi Abbott that centers around a Popcorn shop owned by the protagonist Rebecca Anderson.  This is a well written story and is very much a character driven book which I enjoy.  For me, the thing that keeps me coming back to a series is the characters.  I have to connect with them and want to see what happens next in their lives.  In this book, I really enjoyed the relationship between Rebecca and her sister Hayley as well as her brother-in-law Dan, the sheriff.  Rebecca also has a poodle, Sprocket, who is very much like a secondary character in this book.  I enjoyed Sprockets antics throughout the story.  I also felt that this book had  a well rounded cast of secondary characters.  The only thing that detracted from my enjoyment of this book was that I wasn't sure if I really liked Rebecca as the protagonist.  During the middle part of the story, I found Rebecca to be impulsive in her search for the real culprit.  She had returned to her hometown after leaving as a somewhat wild teenager and her continued complaint that the town saw her as nothing but a failure did wear on me as well.  However, that did change toward the end of the book.

The story had a good mystery and premise, but I didn't feel as if the mystery was a strong as other cozy mysteries I had read.  In this book, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way into the book I guessed the identity of the killer as well as the reason behind it.  While Ms. Abbott did have other suspects and some twists and turns, I didn't feel that they were strong enough to create doubt in the readers mind as to the identity of the real killer.   Part of the fun with cozy mysteries is that the reader is kept guessing as to the identity of the real killer until the end.

Be sure to check out the recipes at the end of the book.  There are some really delicious sounding popcorn treats the reader can try for themselves.

For the first book in a series I thought this was a good effort.  I would like to see a few tweaks to the characters and a stronger mystery in the next book.  I enjoyed this one enough that I will look for the second book in the series.

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