Friday, July 8, 2016

#Book #Review ~ Wedding Bel Blues (A Belfast McGrath Mystery, Book 1) by Maggie McConnon

About the Book:

Are they tying the knot?

Belfast McGrath has spent the last fifteen years avoiding her big, bustling, brash Irish family. But when her five-star culinary career goes up in flames, she retreats to Foster’s Landing—where she’s immediately tapped as her cousin Caleigh’s maid-of-honor. It’s a perfect recipe for disaster...especially when Bel learns that the wedding preparations included Caleigh having one last one-night stand.

Or the noose?

When Caleigh’s lover plunges from the second-floor balcony during the reception, Bel can’t help but think his death was no accident. Soon Detective Kevin Hanson, who just happens to be Bel’s long-ago love, arrives on the scene—looking hotter than ever. Heartbreak and homicide hardly help Bel to feel more at home, but if she is going to make a new beginning for herself, including putting the past behind her, she must first steer clear of a cold-hearted killer.

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Amazon Link: 

My Review:

Belfast "Bel" has a reason for leaving Foster's Landing 15 years ago. When every encounter with those she grew up around features accusing looks and indications that Bel is a liar, she fled as fast as she could. She had hoped to never look back - she insisted that her leaving was permanent. Unfortunately after a disastrous end to her high-end culinary career Bel ends up back in Foster's Landing - where bad goes to worse.

As the newly appointed maid-of-honor at her cousin Caleigh's wedding, Bel has many roles. One being the depositing of her inebriated cousin in the wedding suite to take a nap during the reception. On her way through the manner owned by her family, a body drops from above right into her path. To save her family's reputation, Bel now must hunt for a killer hidden among the guests at the wedding.

I must say, Wedding Bel Blues isn't your typical light-hearted cozy mystery. Yes, there are light and humorous moments but overall, the book has many serious overtones. The author does a great job taking multiple story lines and weaving them together into a fantastic and cohesive book of mysteries. There are many twists and turns that take the characters and the reader on a wild journey that doesn't just involve the death at the wedding. 

Bel's traditional Irish family - loud, large, and meddlesome - has secrets. Secrets that they refuse to share with Bel. Something or multiple somethings are going on, some having to do with the dead guy and others not so much. The sheer amount of lies, deceit, and avoidance is enough to drive Bel insane. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the shenanigans that Bel's family put her through. I mean, I know there are families that lie, deceive, and cheat each other (I've seen it in my extended family) but wow - just wow!

I enjoyed Wedding Bel Blues as both the traditional cozy mystery but also as a more suspenseful book. The characters have their different quirks that add to overall tone of the book and each one is well developed. The story is well-told and full of twists and turns that keeps the reader guessing. The plot is pretty solid; I didn't read anything that didn't make sense or contradicted a previous statement or action. 

I do have one issue with the way Wedding Bel Blues was written - run-on sentences. Wedding Bel Blues has many multi-line, single sentences. These single sentences could have been broken down and composed as two or three to give them more fluidity. Instead, I found myself having to re-read them in order to fully understand what exactly was going on.

Wedding Bel Blues is a great start to a new series by Maggie McConnon. I was engaged from the very beginning and the story was fast paced. I wasn't bogged down with useless or filler information about the characters, the location, or the backstories. The author did a great job with descriptions that were very vivid. The vividness allowed me to put together my own version of Shamrock Manor and the lives of those who dwell within. I look forward to reading about Bel in her next book. 

Paperback review copy courtesy of the publisher, St. Martin's Press, at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

I am part of the Craving for Cozies Challenge 2016.

See my list of Cozies here:

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