Follow Me…for Murder

#FollowMe for Murder by Sarah E. Burr

#FollowMe for Murder is the first book in Sarah E. Burr’s Trending Topic Mystery series. It’s actually the only book in the series right now, but I’m hoping there are more on the way.

Coco (Cordelia) Cline is a young entrepreneur and the savvy owner of a social media consulting business in her hometown of Central Shores, Delaware. She got her start as part of a small team of people who sold their lifestyle-centric tech startup to Facebook, netting millions of dollars apiece. She kept the rights to her lifestyle blog, though, and continues to post to hundreds of thousands of social media followers who hang on her every word.

Sean and Olivia Chen are the owners of a high-end consignment shop in town and they’ve hired Coco to handle the social media campaign associated with the shop’s grand opening. Coco has lots of great ideas, if only Olivia would quit posting impulsively (and to no effect) on social media. Coco and the Chens agree to meet at the shop to discuss the online ramp-up before the big day, but the Chens are late. Coco has her own key to the shop, and when she lets herself in she finds the dead body of the Chens’ assistant, a young woman named Stacy.

Suspicion, naturally, focuses on Coco almost immediately. After all, she found the body. And the police are looking at the Chens, too, since Stacy’s body was found in their shop. Coco needs to clear her name for obvious reasons, but she has to clear the Chens’ name, too, or else their shop is going to fail before it even gets up and running. With the help of her boyfriend and two of her best friends, Coco sets out to find the killer. Along the way she finds that Stacy was hiding some secrets and behavior that could be potentially explosive in the little town of Central Shores.

I loved that this cozy mystery has a lot going on. Besides the mystery of who killed Stacy, there are also hints of political intrigue going on in the little town and Coco’s insecurity about the state of her relationship with her boyfriend of four years, Hudson, whose star is rising quickly as a local television news personality. There’s the high school enemy-turned-voracious follower of Coco’s blog, and a new relationship between one of Coco’s best friends, Charlotte, and a guy working for the county crime lab.

The pacing of the book was spot-on. It moves just as quickly as a cozy should. The characters were fun, too—Coco’s friend Jasper was one of my favorites. And the idea of an amateur sleuth using social media to dig for clues in the case is great. Why? Because it’s a double-edged sword, just like social media in real life: Coco is trying to keep people in town and her minions of followers from finding out she’s the person who discovered the body, so she has to watch everything she says and does. She has to be careful about appearing in photographs that will find their way onto social media. On the other hand, she is a social media expert, so being able to find clues buried in suspects’ profiles and elsewhere online is a great asset for someone with her skill set.

This was a fun read and I’m eager for the second book in the series to come out. I would highly recommend #FollowMe for Murder to anyone who likes a good cozy, mysteries set in beach towns, anyone with a love-hate relationship with social media *raises hand*, and anyone who likes a great cast of characters.

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What I’m reading:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Crate by Deborah Vadas Levison

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Until next time,

Amy

Christmas in August?

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox Bryan

I know Christmas is in December and July, but I wanted to make sure I share this with you before the holiday season starts in earnest because this is one book I think you’re going to want to read.

I’ve read most, if not all, of Mollie Cox Bryan’s books, and I’ve loved them. But this…this is the best one yet. Not only does it involve my favorite holiday, Christmas, but it also involves three of my other favorite things: cows and cheese and mysteries.

Brynn has recently moved to the small, insular community of Shenandoah Springs, Virginia, with dreams of a bucolic life centered on her three beloved cows and her new cheesemaking business. She’s reeling from the blow of a failed relationship, and what she needs is a friend.

She finds one, but something awful happens and Brynn realizes quickly that small-town life is not the idyll she had first thought. With suspects galore, a pastoral setting, rapidly-evolving relationships among the residents of Shenandoah Springs, and even recipes, this books is a treat for the mind and the senses. I highly recommend it.

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What I’m reading:

Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

#Follow Me for Murder by Sarah E. Burr

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Brilliant First in Series

Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose

This is the first book in Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford & Sloane Mystery Series. What attracted me first was the evocative and atmospheric cover, but when I started reading I found that the cover was only one of a number of things I liked about this book.

Set in Regency London, this novel features main characters Charlotte Sloane and the Earl of Wrexford. Charlotte and Wrexford are from different worlds (though there are hints that Charlotte’s past may not have been so different from Wrexford’s station in life) who join forces to solve a grisly murder for which Wrexford stands accused in the court of public opinion. The dichotomy between Charlotte’s meager circumstances and the opulence in which Wrexford lives is striking, and the author does a fabulous job of releasing each character from his or her presumed caste in society in order to work together in a race against time.

I learned a lot about Regency London, the incredible differences between the haves and the have-nots, and the scientific theories that were all the rage at that time. The aura of mysticism surrounding the notion of alchemy lent a spooky element to the story.

I think my favorite characters are the two young brothers—street urchins—whom Charlotte has taken under her wing. Their desire to please, their street smarts, and their willingness to sacrifice for the sake of friendship, love, and honor is wonderful. I hope to see them again.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good English historical mystery, complex characters with intriguing backstories, and a heavy dose of moody settings.