I do love finding a new cozy mystery. They make a refreshing change from the heavier stuff I tend to read a lot of. When I see a cozy that’s the first in a new series, and it’s playing around with a funny, punny title, I just can’t resist grabbing it! I’m happy I chose Dead and Gondola, as it managed to push so many of my ‘cozy-buttons’. How many, you might ask? Let me count the ways:
~ A punny book title.
~ The Book Chalet, a bookshop in the snowbound mountain village of Last Word, Colorado.
~ The Book Chalet has an unusual origin story and long history.
~ The Book Chalet is home to Agatha, a loveable, clever cat named Agatha.
~ The Book Chalet’s owner lives in a cozy loft.
~ The cozy loft is upstairs in the Book Chalet!
~ Agatha the cat loves to snuggle in bed in the loft over the Book Chalet.
~ Two sisters who get along and take care of each other. Surname? Christie!
~ A kindhearted, clever, extremely lucid grandmother who frequently bakes muffins.
~ A teenager who reads, bakes, doesn’t angst much, is not having romance woes, and interacts gracefully with adults.
~ Neighbors who genuinely like each other, to the point of friendly competitions over who will be the first to shovel the snow off each other’s walkways.
Another bonus for me – the storyline reeled in plenty of red herrings. I love trying to figure out everyone’s angle on the murder, and I enjoy being challenged on that. Bring on the scarlet fish, I say!
The actual murder is in keeping with the light, gentle tone of the story. I like that the light and fluffy little village of Last Page is kept from simply floating away on its own niceness by two anchors – a hotel run by a secretive, put-offish owners, and an off-limits celebrity mansion that everyone craves exploring.
While I really loved the book, I do have one small criticism. The author indulged in some repetitive conversations, as info passed from one character to another. These conversations could just have been mentioned as having happened without going into details the readers have already heard before. Hopefully this tendency will be tightened up as the series progresses. I would like to stick with the good folk of Last Word, as I like them and their village, and I do love the Book Chalet!
My thanks to the author, Random House Publishing Group, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.