Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Reads: Cozy Mystery

A few weeks ago, I set myself a goal: finish reading one book per week and write a blog post on it.  The books I was going to review would all be related to my genres I'll be taking on as an agent (fantasy, paranormal, YA, etc).  Just a few weeks.

I failed.

I am in the process of reading two (one steampunk, one urban fantasy), and am about halfway through both.  But I couldn't get them finished in time.  So, this bodes well for my life as an agent, all those published books on my table and I don't even have time to read them (only ten on my table this week! I'm officially a recovering bookaholic).  But I have been reading some fantastic manuscripts and getting on with my training.  Part of which includes reading "how to write" books, which helps me recognize good books and make suggestions to writers regarding theirs.

I did finish one book last weekend.  It is not in my genre, but the author is one of the coolest people you'll ever meet.  And it was my first "cozy mystery" (well, it might be, I can't remember most of the books I read before I was 22--o wait, I just turned 22!).

Penny Warner (website here) weaves a delightful tale of ex-psych teacher turned party planner, Presley Parker.  I loved reading every word of it (forsaking my self-assigned reading material on my self-assigned day off), and shoved it into my mom's face as well (and you, my gentle readers, I'm not shoving, just heavily suggesting).

"Mixing fun and fundraising for charities seemed like the perfect job for Presley Parker when she’s suddenly downsized from her position teaching abnormal psychological at the university. Pres is psyched about her first big gig—hosting a “surprise” wedding for the San Francisco Mayor at notorious Alcatraz prison.

But the party’s over when the bride bolts faster than an escaping prisoner, and is later found dead floating in the bay, a victim of poisoned chocolates. When Presley becomes prime suspect, she looks to her quirky Treasure Island co-workers for help, but it’s the attractive, mysterious crime scene cleaner Brad Matthews who helps tidy up her tarnished reputation. If she doesn’t solve this mystery, she’ll be exchanging her party dress for prison stripes."
Ok, I'll do what I always do now, apply a few basics to evaluate the book.

First line: "Through the thick morning veil of San Francisco fog, all I could make out from the ferryboat deck was the eerie silhouette of an island."

Follow up line (which is so positively on the edge of morbid, that I just have to include it): "It loomed like a giant corpse floating in the bay, its form eaten away by the relentless waves."

A quick paced plot, witty narrator, and the zanny host of characters keeps you riveted all the way through.  And the helpful "Party Planning Tips" at the beginning of each chapter had me laughing again and again.  The ending?  Completely satisfying.  Left me wanting more... there is more you say?  A series?  Well, isn't that just perfect!  Guess what I'll be doing next weekend?  (probably forsaking my self-reassigned reading--again)