Thursday, June 16, 2016

Between a Book and a Hard Place (Devereaux's Dime Store Mystery #1 by Denise Swanson (author), Maia Guest (narrator)

Audible Studios, April 2016

Devereaux Sinclair runs a dime store in the small Missouri town where she grew up. It's a town that is inordinately proud of its "heritage," and because Swanson sees fit to use, unironically, the phrase "War of Northern Aggression," I feel no hesitation in pointing out that, if we are going to be blunt about that war, it would more properly be called the War of Southern Treason.

Dev Sinclair is not thrilled when her mother, whom she last saw thirteen years ago when she dropped Dev off at her grandmother's and left town. Yvette also brought her new husband with her. And the new husband announces the apparently benign intention of funding the reopening of the town library. What he wants in exchange is immediate access to the library's archives of town history, without waiting for the library to reopen.

When Dev's own father starts flirting with the ex-wife who abandoned him, along with Dev, when he was falsely charged with embezzlement and manslaughter, Dev is not amused. She's appalled when her father calls her asking her to come to the library, and she arrives to discover him there with her mother, standing over the dead body of her stepfather.

At this point, Dev decides that the most important consideration is that her father should not have his bail revoked. So of course, this means disposing of her mother's burner phone and his own telephone, then calling the police and telling them that it was herself who went with her mother to meet the new husband for lunch. Not her father. No, no. It's important to lie to the police, and have her father lie to the police, so that her father doesn't get in trouble for possibly having violate his parole, even though the texts going back and forth on his phone and Yvette's would have shown he wasn't there and that they both arrived only after the other man was dead.

I like Dev.  I like her grandmother Birdie, her friends, and her two boyfriends. I really do. The plot here, once you get past the initial "let's do the stupidest thing possible," is interesting and keeps moving. Of course, part of what's going on is the risk of Uncovering Scandal regarding the Confederate ancestors the whole town is so proud of. Nevertheless, I do enjoy these characters despite their concern that some of their ancestors might not have been traitors. It's a fun, light read.

Important Note: I would not be beating repeatedly on the fact that the Confederates were, in fact, traitors engaged in armed rebellion, if Swanson had used "the War of Northern Aggression" in all apparent sincerity, and had exactly zero characters remember even in passing what the Civil War was about.

Still, as I said, a fun, light read.

I received a free copy of this audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.