HALL WAYS REVIEW: The Wrong Side of Murder is another fun, flirty, and fast story that satisfies. Though it's the second in the Nikki Bryant Cozy Mystery series from Lauren Carr, it stands-alone very well by telling enough background to inform and pique interest in reading the first installment, Killer Deadline.
In this installment, the relationship between main character Nikki and her beau (and stepbrother! the scandal!) Ryan is well-established as is Nikki's career in Pine Grove. She's proven herself a competent investigative journalist who not only has the instinct for a story, but she's smart, confident, creative, and assertive enough to get to the root -- and the truth -- of the problems. But Nikki's not perfect, and Carr does a great job of giving her quirks that make her real and relatable. (I may also be in denial that I forget names and make fashion faux pas -- or faux paws, in Nikki's case!) These quirks, along with the return of Elmo, the canine social media influencer, add some levity in a multi-layered plot that gets pretty gruesome at times.
"You're not hearing this from me..."
About that gruesomeness -- while the murders aren't explained in graphic detail, there is no doubt about the violence of them, and the details are repeated, which for me pushes the boundaries of a typical cozy mystery. So sensitive readers be warned.
ABOUT THE NARRATION: Anita Alger is back and even better in her second book. She performs a variety of characters (from crotchety crusty men to snobby socialite women) and keeps them unique -- no small feat given the huge cast of characters. I am still in the early Goldilocks stage, as I find regular speed a bit slow and 1.25x a bit fast. (I really wish Audible would take a cue from other platforms and allow listeners more latitude.) Nonetheless, her pacing is steady and her diction perfect. Solid narration.
Carr never disappoints in having seemingly separate sub-plots threading around each other and ultimately coming together to weave a complex and cohesive mystery. All loose ends are neatly tied, and the denouement leaves readers content that the baddies have gotten their comeuppance, and all is at least temporarily well in the world. I look forward to the next installment.
To celebrate this new release, the author is giving away
$50 via PayPal to one lucky winner!
(Ends November 4, 2022)
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