Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

MUM’S THE WORD by Kate Collins

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At AmazonKate Collins’s new mystery sleuth Abby Knight has found her way onto my shelves. My wife and I love watching BBC movies (FOYLE’S WAR, MURDER IN SUBURBIA, and the new MYSTERY WOMAN series) together and trying to figure out whodunit. My wife doesn’t care for all the blood and violence, though I can occasionally take her to something with fistfights and car chases.

The Abby Knight series gives us a whole new bunch of books to read and talk about. The characters are thin, but they’re supposed to be. These are people that you know enough about to guess the rest and they become real in that respect. There’s not a lot of history here, but there’s plenty of relationships that make a nice family to come home to from book to book.

Abby is in her late twenties and a law school dropout, which means she has the whole disappointment riff going on with Mom.  She ended up buying a flower shop, Bloomer’s Flower Shop, from her best friend, Lottie, who then proceeded to keep working there, so that’s kind of confusing in some ways.  And she’s got an enternally stiff upper lip Brit named Grace watching her back and in general acting as a nanny.  (Imagine Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred only dressed in really good shoes!  On second thought, maybe not.  But that’s how she behaves.)  For strong arm backup, she’s got Lottie’s kids, who thoughtfully turned out all boys of prodigious size. Together, these three form the chief unofficial investigative arm of the amateur sleuth series.  The chemistry they exhibit together is great and promises lots of entertaining adventures to come.

Of course, being a cozy mystery, Abby also has to have a romantic interest.  It’s a little confusing in this first book because Abby seems bound and determined to set her cap for the young district attorney.  But it’s local bar owner, Marco Salvare, an ex-cop turned private investigator, who really hits Abby’s romance radar screen.  They work well together and end up being a delight to watch in action.  Not quite Stephanie Plum and Ranger, but close.

Collins also got her heroine involved in the initial mystery well.  Her car was sideswiped by an escaping murderer.  Only no one believes the young man found dead in his apartment was murdered.  Naturally Abby has to track down the guy who hit her car, and if she ends up catching a murderer too, great.

One thing that Collins does really well is keep the story moving. Something is always happening. It strained credulity a little with the way Abby kept getting her Vette bashed, but I think it was a tip of the hat to Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum character who is notorious for the way she treats cars.

The mystery is almost a no-brainer as well, but you can feel smart for putting all the pieces together. That’s the true joy of a mystery: getting to solve it just a chapter or two ahead of the author.

Since this is Collins’s first book and she’s making some awfully good moves for a beginner, my wife and I are going to keep an eye on her and see where she goes with her series. This book is perfect for a day at the beach or a lazy stay-at-home Sunday afternoon when it’s raining. Also, the titles are really catchy!


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