Death Takes a Break

...a good cozy mystery, this is an ideal way to relax and unwind. ...

Christie Taylor returns to her family ranch in Comfort, Texas to find her father has a shotgun ready. It’s pointed at a developer, who is trying to buy the family ranch. Her father isn’t selling and the developer isn’t listening, so when that same developer then dies on their ranch, Christie’s homecoming becomes a lot less peaceful than she’d hoped.

I will be honest, I picked this up because of the cover. It fitted the rare class of a Texas cozy mystery and the idea of a mix of teacakes, buns, and guns made me curious.

The hook is great: the book starts not with a bang but a threatening click.While the encounter moves nicely I did find the start a little slow.Once the scene has been set and the characters introduced, the pacing picks up nicely.

Developers, old romances, underhanded tactics and that’s all before we get to the murder. I have never been to Texas, but Vikki Walton brings the small town of Comfort thoroughly to life. Anyone familiar with small town politics will find themselves right at home, and the gossip neatly drowning the evidence is very well done. The resolution is satisfying, if somewhat predictable to readers of this genre, and ties in nicely with the small town feel.

I can’t really fault the writing, but two things did slow the story for me. In many places Christie’s background is told rather than shown, and sometimes this felt forced or irrelevant to the main plot. The other issue is the physical description of the characters which slowed things down by diverting from the plot to focus on clothes right down to demin jackets and ample chests. There are entire paragraphs devoted to Taylor’s clothes, and sadly it is not due to Chekov’s earrings. The midpoint break for a peacan pie receipe I will forgive – it is tasty!

In terms of presentation, I have already covered the (excellent) cover. The internal formatting is also good, a Table of Contents at the front, font that resizes easily. There is also a Large text version of this book available. Most of the internal text layout is consistant and clear: there is a single centred paragraph on p23 using Calibre.

Overall this is a good cozy mystery, and seems likely to be the start of a good series for fans of the genre. It rattles along at a decent pace, has a believeable plot, and is well-written. It’s not a book that will stay with you long term, but for a lunchbreak or long journey, this is an ideal way to relax and unwind.

Rating: 4
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