Genre: cozy mystery with a ghost. Recipes included.
Set in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, J. J. Cook's thrilling new mystery series features Fire Chief Stella Griffin, who solves crime with the help of her predecessor, who just happens to be a ghost...
NO MATCH FOR MURDER
After knocking the lights out of her boyfriend when she catches him cheating on her, Chicago fire fighter Stella Griffin hops on her Harley and heads for Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, where she ends up becoming the small town's fire chief. When her dear friend Tory Lambert dies after her gingerbread-style house is set ablaze, Stella suspects arson and foul play.
As Stella investigates, she gets help from a most unlikely source - the ghost of Eric Gamlyn, Sweet Pepper's old fire chief. And if that isn't enough to rattle her, attractive police officer John Trump seems to have taken an interest in her. But Stella's got to stay focused if she hopes to smoke out a killer before her own life is extinguished.
When fire fighter Stella Griffin caught her boyfriend in bed with her friend, she decked him. Unfortunately, the guy is a police officer, and he is pressing charges. So put on leave, she decides to take a temporary job training the volunteer fire squad at Sweet Pepper, Tenessee for the next three months. And so Stella gets on her Harley and drives off with only a few things in her saddlebags.
She is warmly welcomed into town, and has no difficulties with her new team. Of course it is not easy for all of them to train as much as she needs them to, nor are they all as adept as they should be, but there sure is some promise in them. During her stay in Sweet Pepper, Stella is offered the use of a cabin built by the previous fire chief, Eric Gamlyn. It is said that he haunts both the cabin and the firestation, as he build both himself, but Stella does not believe in ghosts. Even her father could never frighten her with his stories as a small child. Heck, even now he keeps telling those stories. But still, her door is always open when she gets home, and the porch light is burning. Is it really faulty wiring caused by snakes? Or is there something else going on?
Her new friend Tory has asked her to investigate the fire that killed her late husband over 20 years ago. Neither the police chief nor the fire chief wanted to belief her when she told them something was not allright with this, her husband had stopped smoking a year earlier. Someone must have killed him. But before Stella can dig in the old case, Tory herself gets killed in her own house, which is then set on fire. Thanks to Stella’s tenacity in investigating the fire, even though she is not a qualified fire investigator, Tory’s lousy son is soon found guilty of torching the place, but he claims not to have killed his mother! So do they still have a murderer on the loose? And is it connected to the old case?
Stella keeps investigating, even though the current police chief is not happy with her at all. And then to her surprise, she finds out she has family in this small town! Why did her mother never tell her about her past, and her relatives? Her grandfather tries to buy her affections and offers her the world, but Stella is not interested. She was raised working class, and she likes her job. She will go back to Chicago when her team is trained, and her contract is up.
Worse, her potential new boyfriend really hates her family, and can’t seem to understand that Stella is not a part of them, and not to blame for what happened in the past …
It took me a while to get into the story, and to get a feel for Stella, but when I did, the book was finished before I knew it. The murder mysteries are very intriguing and difficult to solve, I knew I had no clue at all to what has happened, and who the murderer is.
I enjoyed the ghost parts a lot, and really want to know what happened to Eric that made him a ghost in the first place. It was fun to see how he kept ruining some romantic moments for Stella, but then, I am not so convinced about John as a love interest.
I also can’t help but see Stella’s grandfather like “Blake from Dynasty, or JR from Dallas”, a man with too much power and money who doesn’t hesitate to abuse that. Who thinks he is above the law, and who is treated as such.
There are some really intriguing characters in this first book in the series, and I would love to find out more about them. If you want to start reading a cozy mystery with a little paranormal thrown in, without a huge backlist to get through, I do recommend this one.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian