Abby Rose takes on another case of detection in her adoption detection agency, Yellow Rose Detectives, in Leann Sweeney’s Dead Giveaway. Hired by 19-year-old NCAA basketball star Will Knight and his adoptive parents to locate Will’s biological parents, Abby finds herself in the midst of a murder from early in her case. All that the family knows about Will’s history is that the mixed race young man was left as a baby on the doorstep of a very eccentric woman, Verna Mae Olsen. So the first stop is to visit Verna Mae, whom Abby and Will find creepy because the woman has obviously been stalking Will his whole life and calls him her boy. A couple evenings later, Abby gets a call from Verna Mae that she has more information for Abby. Unfortunately, when Abby shows up at the coffee house where the pair agreed to meet, she finds the police. Upon calling Verna Mae, Abby finds herself talking to her boyfriend, Sergeant Jeff Klein. The informant has been murdered and buried in a giant pile of used coffee beans.
Despite the murder of a key witness, Abby remains determined to get to the bottom of the case, and her persistence (some would say nosiness) gets her a temporary partnership with the Houston Police Department, as Jeff looks into the robbery/ homicide angle and leaves Abby to investigate the connection to Will. The case continues in typical Abby fashion, with her refusing to take no for an answer and using the fact that she is an immensely rich heiress to open doors for her when others would be left merely knocking. We see how Abby continues to work because she is passionate about her cause, not because she needs the employment. And in the process, we see into the hearts and lives of those around Abby.
I was only moderately impressed by the first book in this series, Pick Your Poison, but I really enjoyed the second, A Wedding to Die For, and Dead Giveaway. I really enjoyed following the path that Abby takes in solving the mystery, a complex route that doesn’t even feel complex until you try to map it out. Sweeney is a very gifted writer, and this book shows that. I usually don’t care too much about trying to guess the identity of the murderer. My interest instead is to focus on the path that the book takes to reveal the solution and how the details keep me fascinated. But with this book, I did find myself trying to guess, and of course, despite my having read hundreds of mysteries, I came nowhere near to guessing correctly. Yet the solution seemed natural as soon as Sweeney revealed it.
I also really love the characters and the humor in the details of the book. Abby often offers creative quips and seems like such a real, well- rounded character. I am left sure that I will recognize her walking down the street if I ever go to Houston. And I’m sure I’ll recognize Houston from the vivid depictions of that city. I am left really loving Abby and her desire to help other people who were adopted like she was, especially the fact that she gives the proceeds of her cases to a home for unmarried mothers and offers to cover the expenses for people in need she encounters but does so in a way so as to allow them to keep their dignity.
I really love the performance of Danielle Ferland as she voices the part of Abby, the narrator of the book. With a Texan accent that lends credibility to herself as Abby, Ferland gives us readers a wonderful ride through the pages of this book.
I definitely loved listening to Dead Giveaway. The whole premise of a detective agency devoted to locating the biological families of adopted children is one I have not come across in other books, yet Sweeney makes it creative and one filled with both excitement and pathos. I give this book five stars!
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