Read Herring Hunt
The sequel to The Plot Is Murder by V.M. Burns is just as much a pleasant, undemanding diversion. I won’t remember much of Read Herring Hunt, but I didn’t regret spending an hour or so with the characters.
There’s not as much in the bookstore this time around. Instead, Sam (the owner and our protagonist) and her overactive grandmother Nana Jo help Sam’s assistant Dawson when he’s accused of murder. He’s the quarterback for the local college football team, and he’s been caught in a “honey trap”, latched onto by a sleazy, gold-digging blonde con artist who sees his prospects as a meal ticket. She quickly turns up dead, a one-dimensional plot goblin that we’re meant to despise. (The gender politics here can be pretty traditional, with Dawson’s teammates being barely literate, although Sam’s sister Jenna is good to see as a very effective defense attorney.)
There’s a hint of romance, as a new restaurant near the bookstore has a friendly owner, plus there’s a British professor at the university who taught the dead girl and is also interested in Sam. Sam’s poodles don’t play much role in this book, but Sam’s hobby, writing British murder mysteries, means we get a second story to go along with the main one. This time, it’s 1938 and the upper-class family from her first book are hosting the Duchess of Windsor (yes, Wallis Simpson) and her international friends for a shooting weekend as war looms.
The villain is fairly easy to guess from the moment we’re given his name, the writing has little style, the title is terrible, and many of the supporting characters are two-dimensional at best, but as I said, it’s not a bad time-waster as a cozy mystery for book lovers. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)