Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Uninvited Corpse (Food Blogger Mysteries #1), by Debra Sennefelder (author), Callie Beaulieu (narrator)

Tantor Audio, ISBN 9781977372147, March 2018

Hope Early, after a less than stellar turn as a competitor on a baking reality show, a divorce, and leaving her publishing career in New York City, has moved back to her little home town of Jefferson, Connecticut, and is making her living as a successful food blogger. With her family, as well as old friends and new, nearby, the future is looking good.

Then she attends the book launch of friend Audrey Bloom. Audrey is a gardener, with a profitable career writing about gardening, and this launch party is also a tour of her own garden. Hope's sister, Claire, a real estate agent, also attends, against Hope's advice. Claire wants Audrey to list her house with Claire; Audrey has no obvious reason to sell. It's potentially contentious.

Someone else unexpected turns up--Claire's biggest rival, Peaches McCoy, another real estate agent, who has been poaching listings from other agents, including Claire.

When Peaches is discovered dead in Audrey's husband's home office, Claire immediately becomes the prime suspect. The police detective in charge of the investigation is, though, strangely and aggressively hostile, starting off by rather smugly telling Hope that her friendship with the police chief, Ethan Cahill, going back to school days, isn't going to stop him investigating his prime suspect. Which, outside the context of the conversation in the book, doesn't sound inappropriate, but he's also, as the story goes on, actively resistant to any evidence that might suggest anyone other than Claire could have a motive.

I really liked Hope, Ethan Cahill, another of Hope's friends, Drew, who is a local reporter, and a few other characters. The hostile police detective, on the other hand, is both unlikeable and a cliché. Claire is also not very likeable, and more than a little short-sighted about what is and isn't in her own best interests.

And with the detective so obviously set on railroading Claire, it's bizarre that everyone keeps haranguing Hope about her decision to do some investigating herself, without suggesting any alternative other than trusting the detective who wants to railroad Claire. Yet at the same time, Hope is a terrible choice as an investigator, because she alienates pretty much every potential witness or possible suspect she speaks to.

Overall, though I like Hope and her friends, the story overall is frustrating and annoying.

I bought this audiobook.

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