Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Book Review: Bel of the Brawl (A Belfast McGrath Mystery, Book 2) by Maggie McConnon

Bel of the Brawl by Maggie McConnon

Book Details:

Kindle File Size: 1143 KB
Print Length: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/2nqJbPJ

About the Book:

When Belfast (Bel for short) was in high school, her best friend went missing after a party on the river.

The investigation was long and intense, but Amy Mitchell was never found.

Now, many years later, after a scandalous mistake ended her career as a New York City chef, Bel is working as a caterer at her parents’ wedding hall back in her hometown. But Bel’s new life is turned upside down when some of Amy’s belongings surface in the river, and the investigation into her disappearance is reopened. Bel knows just who to ask for help finding Amy after all this time—the groom in the wedding she’s currently planning is a private detective. But when he mysteriously dies at his own wedding, Bel realizes that if she’s ever going to find the truth, she’ll have to do it herself.

My Review:

Bel of the Brawl is a fantastic sophomore book in Maggie McConnon's Belfast McGrath Mystery Series.  

The past has a funny way of sneaking up on people living in the present.  In the most recent past, the drought conditions have cause the rivers, lakes, and streams to dry up.  As such, items that belonged to Bel's long lost best friend from high school appear.  Amy's disappearance still hasn't been solved, she hasn't been found, and everyone hopes that additional items at the scene can't be traced back to Amy.  Both Bel and her high school boyfriend, Kevin, who is now a police officer, are engulfed with years of  pent up emotion and grief.  The author does a great job writing the two characters in the context of the sad and mysterious disappearance of Amy.

In book 2, Bel has fully reintegrated herself back home in Shamrock Manor with her parents and brothers.  She is the chef for all of the wedding ceremonies and receptions.  One recent wedding reception has rocked the Manor again when Bel finds the groom in the women's bathroom during a medical event that takes his life.  As the death is investigated, one of the undocumented waitresses vanishes, seemingly without a trace, along with money that belongs to the McGrath's.

Between the anguish concerning the long standing mystery surrounding Amy and the new death at the Manor, the book takes the reader through a myriad of thoughts, actions, characters, and scenes.  As with book one, Bel of the Brawlisn't your typical light-hearted cozy mystery. There are some 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.

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 was engaged with this fast paced novel from the very beginning. 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 going wherever the author takes us next with Bel.

I voluntarily read a review copy provided by the author through NetGalley.

My Rating:

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