When Jill's elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill--along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit--especially if it gets her closer to South Cove's finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she's on the case--and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . .
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GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER
A Tourist Trap Mystery
By LYNN CAHOON
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Lynn Cahoon
All rights reserved.
Empty shops are the death knell for small businesses. The thought nagged at me as I read, curled up in my favorite overstuffed armchair. Wednesdays were notoriously slow for all the South Cove businesses. Not many tourists included the day in an impulsive California coastal weekend getaway, but I liked to be open, just in case a random busload of quilting seniors decided to stop for a shot of espresso and a few novels to read while they traveled to their next stop on the tour. It had happened.
The mortgage papers on the building listed me as Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, the only combination bookstore and coffee shop within sixty miles. But as anyone who's gone through a divorce or lawsuit knows, paper only tells half the story. I might own the shop, but I'm also one of the world's biggest suckers.
When I moved to South Cove five years ago, I realized to survive in the small tourist town I'd need to patch together a few different jobs. So I'd jumped at the chance to serve as the business liaison between the local businesses and the city council.
Now I regretted my impulsive nature. And as if to highlight my error, the fax machine on the back counter beeped and started printing out a message.
It could be a catering order coming in. Hope springs eternal and all that. I jumped up from my chair to glance at the half-printed page.
The South Cove city letterhead sparkled on the top. Then Mayor Baylor's scrawl appeared over the sheet. Short and sweet, he wanted the agenda for the next Business to Business meeting in his office by five on Friday.
As the new kid in town, I'd been honored when the city had offered me the position. I should have known there was a catch, because none of the other more-established business owners wanted the job. Working with His Honor The Mayor was a nightmare. But I was stuck with the job—at least until I could sucker the next victim into taking it on. Planning this month's get-together had been on my to-do list for three weeks. I wrote it there myself, right after I'd left the last meeting. I left the fax on the machine and went back to my book.
With a steaming hot mocha within reach on the table, I snuggled in to devour the latest installment from my favorite mystery author. Customers could come tomorrow. The mayor and my to-do list could wait another day. The sunshine warmed my skin, and the smell of deep, dark coffee hung in the air. I tried to ignore the nagging going on inside my brain.
I'd read two pages when the phone rang. My plans for a quiet morning of reading weren't working out. Running the few steps to reach the phone, I felt breathless when I answered. "Coffee, Books, and More, how can I help you?"
"Jill, is that you?" Miss Emily's high-pitched voice blared over the phone line. Man, for being in her eighties, the woman could really project.
"Yes, it's me. What's going on?" My heart slowed a few beats. I needed to get into better shape. I grabbed a dust cloth, happy for the cordless phone. Conversations with Miss Emily were never short.
"Those rats at the council are at it again." Miss Emily's ongoing argument with the city was a popular topic of discussion not only with me, but with anyone who stopped by her house to visit.
"What did they do now?" I walked over to the closest bookshelf and started to wipe away the dust that had already settled since I cleaned yesterday. I loved my little store but sometimes I felt like it owned me, my time, and what was left of my rapidly shrinking savings account.
"They want me to sell out to some charlatan who's building an apartment complex for wealthy seniors. And they're offering me a condo at a reduced price in the complex. Can you believe it?" Miss Emily sounded near tears.
"They can't make you sell." I tried to calm her.
"The letter says they can. It says the council can condemn the property and just take my house. Can they do that?" Miss Emily rattled the pages hard enough that I could hear the crinkling over the phone.
"Just put that letter away and I'll look it over on Sunday. When do you have to answer?" I was starting to worry. The council had never threatened to condemn her property before. I'd have to check with Amy, she'd know the details. Having the city planner as a friend came in handy.
"The end of the month."
"We have plenty of time. We'll call some lawyers on Monday if we need to." One more thing on my to-do list.
"I'm buying a rifle to keep those carpetbaggers off my land," Miss Emily declared.
"Don't buy a gun!" Miss Emily sounded determined. Determined enough to shoot anyone who knocked on her door and ask questions later. Maybe I should close up shop now and go over to keep her out of trouble.
The bell over the door announced a customer, taking the option out of my hands.
"Someone just came in, I'll see you Sunday?" I nodded a friendly greeting to the woman in a white sundress. The woman's eyes passed over me as she headed toward the bookshelf filled with local history books. Tourists loved the "local charm" books, as I called them. I stocked as many as possible as they flew off the shelf faster than any other category. I focused back on the phone call. I had a couple of minutes before I'd be needed.
"Don't worry, I'll behave myself, as long as they don't come on my property."
"Miss Emily!" I walked back toward the coffee counter to greet the woman who was now wandering around the shop, a couple of books tucked under her arm.
"Go take care of your customer, I'm joking." Miss Emily chuckled and then hung up on me. I would have been worried except she ended all of her phone conversations that way. No good-bye, just dead air. Even when you weren't done talking.
The woman pushed her Jackie O–inspired sunglasses to the top of her flowing blond hair. She portrayed a more Hampton feel than central California coast girl.
"What a quaint little bookstore." The fashion Barbie leaned down to her purse and talked into the bag.
What the heck was she doing?
Today was turning out to be anything but slow. Working with people made me like my books so much more. I put on my retail smile. "Can I help you?"
The woman jumped as she turned to the sound of my voice. "Oh, there you are. Precious and I didn't think anyone was here." She walked toward the counter, books in hand.
"Precious?" She'd named her purse?
"Precious, meet—I'm sorry, I didn't get your name." The crazy Barbie clone focused on me.
"Jill, Jill Gardner. I'm the owner. We're the only bookstore and coffee shop in South Cove," I said with not just a little pride. I loved the little shop I had built over the last five years. The shop and South Cove felt like home more than any place had felt in my entire lifetime.
"Precious, meet Jill." The woman pulled out a red, toy-sized Pomeranian from her tote bag.
I never knew Coach made dog carriers. "Nice to meet you, Precious." I reached out to pet the cute little dog.
Precious took one look at my approaching hand and curled his neck back like a cobra and struck.
"Ouch." I pulled back my bleeding hand. Walking back around the counter, I went to the sink to rinse off the blood.
"Bad boy." The woman and her evil dog came closer to the coffee counter. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, thanks for asking ..." I stopped talking, realizing her comments had been to the devil dog, not me. People. I wanted this woman to leave so I could get back to my book, or write the agenda for the mayor, or even clean the stockroom. One lost customer wouldn't hurt. Instead, I took a deep breath, then asked, "Can I make you something?"
"Iced coffee, skim, no whip. Put in an energy boost. I'm dragging today." The woman slipped "Precious" back into his bag, but I could hear him growling through the leather. "I'm missing my coffee shop at home, they have the best supplements, I swear."
"Sorry, I don't sell supplements." I started making the coffee, hoping to get this nightmare out of my shop. "Are you visiting South Cove? There's a great place down the street where you can watch them blow glass."
"My boyfriend is working out a deal on some sort of development here. We won't be in town long. You'll be amazed at how he can take a run-down town like this, bulldoze it over, and have nice, new, clean buildings back up in no time." Precious's owner ran a finger over my counter, holding it up to look for dust.
"I'm sure bulldozing buildings isn't part of any plan the city would approve. Most of these buildings are on the historic register. South Cove's development plan is based on renovating existing structures to modern uses." No way would the council approve a slash-and-burn development.
Fear gripped my stomach, twisting the mocha I'd sipped on all morning. Could this be the complex Miss Emily had mentioned? I'd call Amy to get the real story, right after this woman left. I handed her the iced coffee. Then I glanced at the books she'd set on the counter. "This book on South Cove history was written by a local. His son still runs the Main Street Bed and Breakfast."
"Why, that's where we're staying." She thumbed through the book. "Maybe he'll have some stories to add."
"I'm sure he'd love to talk to you about his father's research." I pointed at the other book. "This one tells the history of all the Spanish missions on the coast. The author did a road trip when this book was first published, stopping at all the mission sites. The launch was quite the production."
"I'm sure it was." She glanced at her watch. "So what do I owe you?"
I guessed girl bonding time was over. "Three-fifty for the coffee and thirty for the books."
"I can't believe how cheap everything is here. You'd be shocked at what I pay for a coffee in Santa Barbara. You just got a regular customer. Besides, you're much nicer than that other place." The woman counted out thirty-five dollars in bills. "Keep the change."
"Thanks for stopping by." I tried to sound a little friendly.
"I'll see you tomorrow." She headed to the door, then turning back, she struck a pose and smiled. "By the way, I'm Bambi."
Bambi, of course.
"See you." Maybe it was time to hire staff so I could avoid selling Bambi her daily iced coffee.
Bambi didn't hear my response; she was too busy talking to Precious. "Aren't you the little pit bull, protecting Mommy? What a good boy."
The bell on the door rang again, announcing their exit from the shop. I grabbed the phone and dialed Amy's number at the city office.
"City of South Cove, Amy Newman." Amy served as city planner, historian, secretary, and part-time receptionist for South Cove. By combining a lot of the little jobs, she had carved out a full-time position allowing her to use her architectural design degree without living in the big city. Besides, working for Mayor Baylor gave her plenty of time for her true love, surfing.
"Can you meet me?" One customer for the morning was enough.
"I can be at the diner in about ten minutes?"
"See you then." Amy would blow a gasket if she found out the mayor or the council had talked to Bambi's boyfriend/developer without getting her input as city planner. Having her out in public might lessen the steam that would flow out of her ears when I told her.
I hung up and went to the window to post the CLOSED sign. I grabbed my purse and locked the door behind me.
Main Street was empty. A few cars sat parked on the redbrick street, but no one walked down the sidewalk on this side of town. I caught a glimpse of the woman who owned The Glass Slipper, washing the inside of her display window. Another thing I needed to do soon.
The brightly painted flower planters were overflowing with summer annuals, including my favorite, petunias, making the small business district look more like a Swiss Alp resort than a California coastal town. But I loved the old-fashioned lamp posts the council had put in last year. The lamp posts added to the European flair of the downtown core, and a lot of customers had told me how much they loved walking through the town.
Diamond Lille's was the only restaurant in South Cove (unless you counted my coffee shop). Lille and I have an understanding; she doesn't make caramel mochas and I don't serve dinner. That way I can close early and she can open late. Lille has the upper hand in the compromise. She's been a part of South Cove culture for over twenty years. Everyone ate at Diamond Lille's at least once a week. I'm still working on developing regulars after five years.
"Hey!" Amy waved at me as I walked in. Like I couldn't see her among the tables filled with farmers eating their lunch. The smell of apple pies baking floated out of the kitchen.
I slipped into one of the red tufted booths lining the back wall. Diamond Lille's had been decorated as an old-fashioned western saloon meets rocking fifties diner. An iced tea with lemon waited for me, the humidity from the restaurant condensing on the outside of the glass. I took a long sip. "Thanks, I needed this."
At thirty, Amy got carded more than most twenty-one-year-olds we knew. Her short blond hair was cut into a pixie. Perpetually tan from spending her weekends surfing the California coast, her obsession also kept her stick-thin. I, on the other hand, carried an extra twenty pounds because I spent my weekends reading and tanning on the roof of my building. That is, after I closed down the shop on Saturday.
"So what brings us to lunch on a Wednesday? Usually you are too deep into your latest book to even remember to eat." Amy closed the menu, when our hostess appeared at the side of the booth. "Hey, Lille, what's up?"
"Oh, the stories I could tell. People are just weird, that's all. Some girl tried to come in with her dog. I had to throw her and the mutt out." Lille peered over her glasses. "So, ladies, what can I get you?"
I was dying to hear more about Bambi's appearance, but I knew if I pushed, Lille would just clam up. So I settled for ordering lunch. "I'll have the Asian chicken salad with the dressing on the side."
"Give me the house burger with everything. And fries." Amy handed the menu back and shrugged her shoulders at me. "What, don't look at me like that, I had a small breakfast."
Sure, probably a three-egg omelet, sausage, and bacon with a side of hash browns.
I shook my head. Watching Amy eat made me feel like I was doing something wrong with my perpetual dieting. And I probably was—not exercising. Who had time? "I met the girl Lille threw out."
Amy sputtered through a sip of her strawberry milk shake. "What? When?"
"Just before I called you. She and her dog, 'Precious'—who is anything but—came in for an iced coffee." I stared at the milk shake, imagining the creamy drink cooling my mouth. I don't like strawberry, I reminded myself. "Then, after the dog bit me, she told me her developer boyfriend was going to bulldoze the town and rebuild better stores."
"She said what?" Now Amy wasn't interested in her milk shake. Maybe she wouldn't notice if I just took one sip.
"Yeah, that's what Bambi, her name and description, said after she ran her hand down my counter to check for dust." I took a long sip from my iced tea. I love iced tea, I tried to convince myself. "Seriously, I would have thrown her out if she wasn't my only customer of the morning. So, what have you heard about a new developer being in town?"
"Nothing." Amy appeared shocked at my announcement. "Really, there isn't anything going on, except ..." She took another sip of her shake. When Amy played poker or lied, she had a tell. Amy stalled.
"Except what?" This couldn't be good news.
Amy sighed and leaned back while Lille slipped the platter filled with burger and fries in front of her. I could the smell the grease from the fries. My salad looked wilted.
"The council wants to issue Miss Emily another letter about her yard. I've held them off for a while and told them I'd talk to you. But I can't hold them off forever. She's got a week before they meet again."
"Crap. I've been meaning to find someone to mow. It's not easy. She's gone through all of the teenagers who live in the area; none of them will even walk by her house now."
"It's not just mowing. They want her to replace that fence in the front." Amy dug into her burger, ketchup running out of the side of her mouth.
Excerpted from GUIDEBOOK TO MURDER by LYNN CAHOON. Copyright © 2014 Lynn Cahoon. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I can't recommend this book. (And let me warn you now, some will feel I am being harsh.) I will start by saying that I love cozy mysteries. I will add that the overall idea for this story is good...but that's it. Comment #1...The amount of editorial errors alone drove me CRAZY. Seriously, did anyone proofread and edit this book??? Comment #2...Beyond the editorial errors, the overall content is lacking in development and consistency. (Just consider what a basic storyline/plot line is...and USE it.) Comment #3...The character development needs work. I couldn't decide whether the protagonist was worth liking or not. Oh, actually, I did decide--SHE WAS BORING. I have a difficult time believing the writer even liked her main character much. Comment #4...Nothing drives me CRAZIER than a writer being redundant. Please do not tell me the same bits & pieces of information 9,000 times throughout the book. The redundancy was overwhelming. Argh. Comment#5...Believability. I will gladly suspend believability to a certain extent. But in this story the writer wants us to believe that the best friend of the protagonist just ups and disappears for an extended amount of time and then the protagonist doesn't seriously delve into what happened to her??? I know, I know...it's supposed to be a part of the rising action, the mystery, but COME ON...do it more realistically...this was really reaching as far as I'm concerned. In fact, too much reaching was going on. Its too contrived to throw something out there like this and expect that the reader will just "go along" with it for the sake of having some mysterious "goings on". I am glad that I did not spend much on this book and that I could read it in just a couple of hours. But I am sad that it wasn't a better book as I love reading series.
A wonderful book and series to curl up with on a rainy afternoon. A light and entertaining read--Think small business, quaint town, shops, espresso, bookstore, cafe, coffee, galleries, inns, and a good cozy mystery which “Guidebook to Murder” offered -full of loveable (and not so likeable) characters and friends in this small South Cove, CA tourist town. Jill, a former lawyer has inherited Miss Emily’s house (she befriended her years ago), and of course the city wants to tear down the house for a new condo real estate development. With other things in mind and begins her fight with small town politics, developers plus much more. As she begins her renovation, she meets many obstacles, and of course Emily’s family, the mayor, real estate developers, attorneys, threats, and now faced with the circumstances which surround Miss Emily’s death and secrets, and then then her best friend goes missing. As the mystery unfolds (who did it), many possible suspects and secrets to keep you turning the pages. My only input would be more background of Miss Emily and her past, as I agree with some of the other reviewers. Loved the main character, Jill at times, however other times not, as she was back and forth as a door mat. She owns the quaint Coffee, Books and More, along the coastal Pacific, after having moved from a larger city after her divorce, interacting with many tourists while they are in the area – life is good until she inherits the home of her old friend and Detective Greg (possible love affair)?, gets involved – mystery begins . . . If you like cozy books, bookstores, small towns, and a light mystery, this book is for you; however, if you are a serious thriller mystery lover, it might not be your cup of tea. The front cover was a nice draw and appealing if you are a book lover. My first book by this author--definitely look forward to reading the next book , “Mission to Murder” #2 in series “A Tourist Trap Mystery.” (sneak preview at the end – with mentions of Aunt Jackie, Sadie, Greg, possibly a mystery writer, fortune teller, a B&B –something to look forward to-coming summer 2014).
I enjoyed this book. In the beginning, I was thinking that it would be a chick bool about a woman getting away from a divorce and starting a new life, but it tool some interesting twists and turns and was a full blown murder mystery with a lot of surprises.
This was my first book by this author and I will definitely read another... She kept the story moving, a great plot and I was unable to figure out the villain until the end of the book. It kept me on my toes... It is a good mystery with out blood and violence...
Great 1st in series! Characters were wonderful from Jill to Detective Greg to Aunt Jackie to all the workmen, etc. Lynn Cahoon has woven the good guys/bad guys into a hard to figure out cozy that had me entertained all the way through. Can hardly wait to read the next one in A Tourist Trap Mystery series.
Couldn't put the book down.
I have just finished this book - I found it to be a difficult book to put down. It had several twists and turns, I can usually figure out the 'Bad person or persons' this time I was still in the elimination situation when the ending came. Well written- will have to read more of her books. Thank you.
This was a fun book! Loved the twists that were thrown in (like artwork) and some of the characters you had to love to hate. Will buy next in series after I finish this review.
I loved this book, to me it has everything I like to read in a cozy. Likeable characters, humor, a little romance and a crime that I can't figure out right away. This book has it all. Jill the main character is likeable and intelligent, she has a murder and a disappearance to figure out, while trying to save a home that she has inherited. There is an interesting mix of characters. I actually laughed out loud in a few spots, and I didn't figure out who did it, and when it was explained it made perfect sense. I am definitely moving on to the next in this series.
Don't expect a literary masterpiece here, but if you want to spend a few hours with a fun character and enjoy this little world created by the author, I recommend this book whole heatedly. Happy reading.
I could not wait for this book to be over. I honestly wanted to abort the read multiple times, but held out in hopes it would get better. Overall, the story was flimsy with too many unlikely things happening to one person to be believable. I suppose some of this can be attributed to the eccentric character these happenings centered around, but it still read as unlikely. The biggest issue that I could not get over (spoiler alert) is that the heroine mentions in chapter 2 that the incredibly good looking detective had "been married at the Methodist church down the street" and then the rest of the book a huge story line is him flirting with her and her flirting back, her later being shocked to find out that he's married, and then her unwillingness to address the issue with him. Why are you surprised to find out he's married when you mentioned it yourself?
I can't count how many of these cozy mysteries involve a woman moving to another town and rehabbing a house, or mansion or estate of a relative or family friend. This is a boring and redundant theme. It's gotten so bad that I when I begin reading, I pick up on this theme, I immediately stop reading and archive the book on my Nook. Please will someone write something new!!
Has humor and held my interest. Did not figure it out!
Small CA coastal town bookstore and coffee shop. Loved it. Lots of characters. A bit of romance. Murder. Many surprises along the way. Fun
This is the cozy mystery at it's best! I generally love watching cozy mysteries on television, but when it comes to print, I find many of them too slow and plodding. This one is different. It has an interesting story line and writing style that I find a welcoming read. Normally I don't care for romance intertwined with murder mysteries, but I thoroughly enjoyed this romance! I am excited to read her next book and hope she will continue this series, or something like it, for many years to come. I REALLY LIKED THIS BOOK!
I was looking for a light summer read and this fit the bill. I think I would have enjoyed it more if there had been about 50 more pages of character development. I'm finishing the summer with the 2nd book in the series.
Jill's ups and downs kept my attention so much that I found it hard to put my Nook down! I am looking forward to the next in the series. A very colorful story line.
quick easy reading for the summer deck. made you wonder with a couple of "suspects" througout the book. looking forward to reading book 2
I really enjoyed this book. Jill is a normal person and acts like a normal person. Her sleuthing uncovers clues, but she goes about it like an amateur, which is VERY refreshing. The only negative was the amount of coffee Jill consumes...an inhuman amount (this is being said by a non coffee drinker but it is still very excessive) I found that annoying. However, it will not stop me from reading the next book in the series when it comes out in July! I like Greg, the police detective too!
I was looking for a light mystery to read and found it in this book. The characters are fun, the storyline interesting, the twists simple but believable. If you are looking for a light read for the beach or a rainy day - this is it.
Burn-out from too many messy divorces in the law practice plus the failure of her own marriage has brought Jill Gardner to the small California tourist town of South Cove. She wants nothing more than for her bookstore/coffee shop to provide a living and to enjoy a peaceful life. It’s not to be. Before Jill can assist her elderly friend with a response to the most recent pressure to sell to a development company, the life-long resident dies -- and leaves the property to Jill. A protective detective, Greg King, takes a serious interest in Jill’s safety when the threats begin. Curiosity wins over Greg’s advice as secrets from her late benefactor’s life surface and Jill’s surfer friend goes missing. The cast of interesting characters in this cozy mystery had me turning pages and ignoring everyday tasks. Ms. Cahoon has started something with this small town mystery with a dash of romance and I’m looking forward to the next episode of the adventures of Jill and Greg.
South Cove California is a tourist stop along the coast. Jill Gardner owns Coffee, Books, and More and she just wants to make enough to keep the business open. She is relatively new to the town. It was meeting Miss Emily one day that convinced her to move to South Cove. Miss Emily is an elderly woman who has had a bunch of businesses crop up around her home. Her house needs a lot of work but when she receives a letter telling her the town council is going to condemn her home or force he to sell to a big developer she calls Jill in a panic. Jill calms her down and tells her they will work things out. But before that can happen Miss Emily passes away very unexpectedly. She leaves her home and all its problems to Jill, but Jill thinks Miss Emily was murdered and sets out to prove it even as the killer tries to puts Jill out of business permanently. Dollycas’s Thoughts I knew I was going to love this book and I sure did. Jill Gardner is a great character. She is down to earth and her confidence while shaky at the start continues to grow throughout the story. She also likes food and she features some tasty treats in her shop. There will be even more if Aunt Jackie has her way. Aunt Jackie is a lot like my mom was, do things now and get permission for them later. Jill asks Aunt Jackie to help her with the store as she deals with Miss Emily’s house and all that entails and Jackie took “help” to a whole new level. I was laughing out loud. I was sad that Miss Emily became the murder victim. She was quite a woman and she has a few secrets. I would have loved to spend more time with her. South Cove is also home to Detective Greg King. A handsome guy that just keeps running into Jill. The sexual tension is thick enough to cut with a knife. It is going to be fun watching this relationship progress. The mystery is great too, I just wish I had Jill’s energy, not only does she find out what happened to Miss Emily and why, she also makes substantial repairs to Miss Emily house. Of course she has outside contractors to help but just pulling everything together while painting and decorating was miraculous and a joy to read. There is a lot going on in this book. The pages just flew. I have been trapped by this Tourist Trap mystery and can’t wait to be trapped again by Mission to Murder coming July 31, 2014.
Jill and friends kept me interested. A couple of the story line threads seemed to repeat too often, and one in particular was a no brainer and finally put to rest in the last chapter. However, the overall plot had an interesting twist. I'm game for the 2nd in the series.
What a great book! I've read Lynn Cahoon's Cat Latimer books, but this is the first Tourist Trap mystery I've read. There were more than one mystery in this story, which made it rich and complex. But it was a fast read for me, not wanting to put it down. There were several reasonable suspects, and I didn't solve the mysteries until they were revealed in the book. I loved Jill, owner of a book/coffeeshop in a coastal California tourist town. She was realistic to me, with flaws and weaknesses, wit, and a dry humor/sarcasm that I can relate to and appreciate. I also liked Jill's Aunt Jackie, her best friend Amy, and Detective Greg King. I'm so happy there are 8 more books in this series (so far!) and I'm ready to go get the 2nd right now.