The Meredith Potts Cozy Mystery Anthology gives a sample of five cozy mystery books from different series written by Meredith Potts. Each has a different style to it with four different protagonists.
In College Can Be Murder, Melanie Cooper, PI, investigates a case for a pastor named Mark Richardson, whose 19-year-old daughter, Jennifer, disappeared three weeks earlier. The local police of her small college town have written off her disappearance as suicide by jumping off the high gorge that makes the town famous. However, Jennifer’s father doesn’t believe she would have killed herself, as the death of her mother in a car accident a few years earlier instilled a strong appreciation for life in Jennifer.
Melanie talks to various people connected to Jennifer’s life, including her nosy next-door neighbor; her unhelpful drama teacher; her resistant and suspicious boyfriend, Tyler; and Tyler’s hostile ex- girlfriend with whom he has gotten back together. What Melanie finds is a surprise each step of the way until she finds a shocking solution.
In The Last Frontier of Murder, Andrea McDougal is alarmed when her private investigator boyfriend, Jake, doesn’t show up for their date one evening. After several calls go unanswered, Andrea rushes to Jake’s office and finds him on the floor, shot through the chest. Despite a quick response by the ambulance, the EMTs are unable to save Jake.
When her friend, Detective Adam Stone, makes no progress initially, Andrea announces that she is taking over the investigation, so the pair go throughout Frozen Pine, Alaska, in talking to the people Jake caught cheating on their spouses, Jake’s jealous ex- girlfriend, the secretary of Jake’s office who has been secretly in love with Jake, and others who have had connections with Jake until Andrea reaches the truth.
In Deadpan Murder, librarian Poppy finds her bookstore owner mother figure, Lara Peabody murdered with a frying pan in their small English town of Dunburyshire, population 5,437. Since her boyfriend is the local police detective and Poppy has successfully helped the police in the past, Inspector Oliver Poole allows Poppy to team up with him in interviewing the suspects. But sadly, the suspects are Lara’s three children, Jude, Elliot, and Tilly, and one of them killed their mother.
In Killer Amnesia, Melanie Cooper is running in Collier’s Woods when a woman bleeding from the forehead calls out to her for help. The problem is that the woman doesn’t know what happened to her or even her own name. Melanie’s boyfriend, Detective Steven Griffin, uses the Jane Doe’s fingerprints to discover that her name is Amy, and she went missing a year earlier many miles away. But Amy’s husband, Larry, seems suspicious to Steven. Together, Melanie and Steven work to get to the truth.
In Murder in Happy Creek, 75-year-old Rose Calahan is really missing her late husband, Harold, on the fourth anniversary of his death. But then her daughter, Kaitlyn, a police detective, asks her for help. Rose’s former boss, Syd Harper, a private investigator, has been murdered, and the only thing out of place is the label sticker of a missing 20- year- old case file that he solved while Rose worked as his secretary. Kaitlyn asks Rose’s help in investigating Syd’s murder. The pair have to visit the past to locate the solution.
The novellas found in this collection are generally unique and enjoyable. They give us a different style of mystery in each one and introduce us to the range of writing and series available from Meredith Potts. I especially enjoyed the two featuring Melanie Cooper, which use highly creative methods of crafting the mysteries and solutions.
I did find a few issues that unsettled me, however. One detail that struck me as unrealistic was the way that the police allow civilians to just take over the case in some of the stories. Poppy even takes an active role in grilling suspects in Deadpan Murder. The novellas are each narrated by the amateur woman who takes charge of the investigation, and they tend to repeat some common phrases, such as “my boyfriend” when it would be more appropriate to give his name, or “break the case wide open.” I would like to see more variety of language and less reliance on cliches.
Marley Welling performs the audio edition of this set of books. I found myself less than impressed by the performance, which did not stand out as especially stellar. Many common words were mispronounced from the standard usage. Welling’s sense of timing bothered me, as she often rushed her reading and omitted the pause that a period is supposed to indicate. In fact, at one point I double checked to make sure that I hadn’t accidentally hit the button to play the book at a faster rate than standard. In addition, the third novella, Deadpan Murder, takes place in England with a British main character as narrator, the choice to stick to an American accent was jarring. Further, the final novella, Murder in Happy Creek has a 75-year-old narrator, but there was no indication from the performance that a senior woman is taking. When I have listened to so many excellent narrators, this performance disappointed.
Overall, I enjoyed The Meredith Potts Cozy Mystery Anthology. I appreciated the plots of the novellas for the most part, though I would have liked a little stronger connection between evidence and the solution. However, the characters drew my attention and kept me entertained. I give this anthology four stars.
Disclaimer: I received this audiobook for free through Audiobook BOOM, but that had no influence on the content of my review.
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