From the Back Cover of the Paperback:
Starting your life over at age thirty-eight isn't easy, but that's what Sarah Winston finds herself facing when her husband CJ runs off with a 19-year-old temptress named Tiffany. Sarah's self-prescribed therapy happily involves hitting all the garage and tag sales in and around her small town of Ellington, Massachusetts. If only she could turn her love for bargain hunting into a full-time career.
ONE MAN'S JUNK IS ANOTHER MAN'S TREASURE
But after returning from a particularly successful day searching for yard sale treasures, Sarah finds a grisly surprise in one of her bags: a freshly bloodied shirt…that undoubtedly belongs to her ex, CJ, who now happens to be Ellington's chief of police. If that's not bad enough, it seems Tiffany has gone missing. Now it's up to Sarah to prove that her cold-hearted ex is not a cold-blooded killer…
BUT FINDING THAT TREASURE CAN BE MURDER.
Title and Series: Tagged for Death (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, Book 1)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (December 2, 2014)
Sarah Winston is newly divorced from a former military man-turned police chief. When Sarah found out her husband CJ Hooker, cheated on her with one of the military recruits, she packed her stuff and moved out. What Sarah didn't do is move on, which is very evident with every page turned.
To help soothe the pain, Sarah continues to volunteer at the thrift store in the town of Ellington, MA, where she, and CJ, live separate lives. The store just happens to be on the Air Force Base she once lived with CJ before he became the town's Chief of Police. Part of her routine includes collecting unsold merchandise from garage sales to take to the thrift store. Sarah makes a gruesome discovery in one of the bags she picked and shortly thereafter, it's learned that CJ's mistress has gone missing.
As the disappearance is investigated, all fingers point to CJ in the disappearance and possible murder of Tiffany. Except, Sarah knows he didn't do it. CJ is many things but a murderer isn't on that list. She then takes it upon herself to figure out who's trying to frame CJ and why. Along the way, Sarah rattles the closet doors of some townsfolk that would prefer to leave their skeletons hidden, both complicating and endangering her sleuthing.
What follows is a continual run of back luck for Sarah. She discovers bloody evidence in a garage sale donation, is the one to find human bones outside of the thrift store, and the list goes on and on. Not only does it look like CJ is being set up, whomever is orchestrating these events is making sure that Sarah is suffering right along with CJ.
This book appealed to me because I love garage sales and what better cozy mystery than one based around them. Such a new and unique idea really. The world building is creative and realistic. Sarah's protagonist character does a lot of foolish things in Tagged for Death. She gets involved in events that could clearly implicate her or CJ or she goes digging into personal lives of people she shouldn't.
The writing is good but some of the plot details are distracting. The harassment that Sarah faces at the hands of the local police force is aggravating. It started long before the disappearance of Tiffany yet is explained away at the end of the novel in a bit too convenient way. I understand Pernell's stance on a few things but his threatening undertone toward a woman who was NOT responsible for the ending of her marriage was a bit over the top.
Tagged for Death is a good cozy mystery that is full of twists, turns, distractions, and red herrings. There are suspenseful, humorous, and heartbreaking moments that are sure to keep the reader engaged. The author sets up many of the characters as the potential suspect and expertly pulls the tablecloth out from underneath them without spilling the truth. The ending is a two-fold surprise that left my mouth gaping. I wasn't expecting what happened and look forward to Book 2, The Longest Yard Sale.
Paperback review copy courtesy of my bookshelf. This is a Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar store purchase.
Tagged for Death (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries, Book 1)
I am part of the Craving for Cozies Challenge 2016.
This is Book 5 of my challenge!
See my list of Cozies here: