Thursday, February 25, 2021

Book Review: Double Shot (A Top Shelf Mystery) (Top Shelf Mysteries Book 4) by Lolli Powell

If Scientists Start Looking for the Self-Preservation Gene, They Shouldn’t Check Ricki

It’s not so much that Ricki Fontaine, the hero of the Top Shelf Mysteries, laughs in the face of death as it is that she wisecracks her way through peril. Take the bar owner’s thoughts as she stares down the barrel of a handgun in this latest installment:  If she died then her employees “… would be swamped at the Shelf. Murder always increased business, and I liked to think mine would draw more than an out-of-town real estate developer’s.” Of course, as a long-time reader of the series, I knew she was a bit low on the self-preservation trait (like into negative numbers), but I’ll deal with that because there are few fictional characters that make me laugh more than Ricki. I mean, all the life lessons she gives us readers for free! “Murder in close proximity to your person is not conducive to a good night’s sleep, so do your best to avoid it if you can.” Who would have thought that?

Of course, there’s a whodunit to be solved in this mystery series, and like the predecessor books, this one’s good. Mose Franklin and his grandson, Trey, are being evicted from their family home after the Savings & Loan makes an unprecedented decision to sell the delinquent mortgage to an outside developer. Trey gets arrested for the crime. Author Powell, however, keeps us guessing by introducing several other suspects with possible motives – mobsters, mean alcoholics, unscrupulous land developers, even law enforcement. Each is well portrayed through Ricki’s thoughts. But the book also gives us a double shot of mysteries, the second being of the romantic variety. Will Ricki let her past, detective boyfriend, Gabe, back in her life? Or will she take up with the newspaper editor, Logan? And, as the author’s synopsis says, “And then there’s that FBI agent….” I don’t believe it’s a spoiler to say that neither of these mysteries ends in a cliff-hanger.

I had only minor issues with the book (perhaps because it’s tough to have concerns when you’re laughing). There were some minor repetitions in the text, sometimes just a word, and sometimes between Ricki’s thoughts and the dialog: “Victor still had a few things to do, and I shook my head. ‘No, that’s okay. Looks like you’ve still got things to do.’” A more general concern was the emphasis on the Gabe vs. Logan backstory. For my taste, that quandary was repeated a bit too often during the tale. But I suppose if you’re going to live on the edge, it’s better to have someone special when you back away from it.

Overall, Double Shot is an excellent read. I look forward to the next installment in the series, wondering whose warnings Ricki will ignore and how I’ll get along without more of her life philosophy until then.

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