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review 2017-07-22 00:43
Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli
Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli - Diane Kelly

Not my favourite of the series, but not bad.  It had fewer mini-plots running concurrently, in fact, there was only one, and I missed them.  Kelly is really good at those multiple mini-plots and they keep the story moving and lively.  Without them, this one dragged a bit.

 

Tara is undercover here, working directly for the mobster's wife in her restaurant and the scenes with the wife were probably the best in the book.  I liked the dynamic between her and Tara.  Unfortunately, the rest of the storyline failed to catch my complete interest.  Tara didn't do much in the way of investigating at all and that's some of my favourite parts of past stories.

 

It was still a solid read and hopefully in the next book the author will have Tara back to juggling her usual caseload.

 

 

 

 

 

Total pages:  325  

$$: $9.00 (location multiplier)

 

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review 2017-07-01 03:30
Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses (Tara Holloway, #8)
Death, Taxes, and Cheap Sunglasses - Diane Kelly

It's been awhile since I picked up a Tara Holloway novel, and I don't know why - they're really fun and better built than your average cozy.  Needing to read a book where the character had to be good with a gun was just the motivation I needed to get back into the series.

 

In this book Tara is investigating an email scam, a Facebook scam, and two non-profits that might not really be non-profits; one of these involved an animal sanctuary, and up-front, I skimmed a lot when this story line came forward, although the wrap up of it was awesome.  Running through the whole of the story is her boyfriend and best friend (an IRS and DEA agent respectively) going deep undercover against the Mexican drug cartel.  

 

While Tara's investigations are relatively lightweight and suffuse the storyline with humour, the cartel storyline is not light.  Kelly has done her research and, while she has a tendency to overshare that research with readers sometimes, here it's relevant, timely and the perfect hook for setting the level of danger involved.  Tara contributes once or twice, but is mostly in the dark about what's going on until the end.  And the end is unbelievably tense for a cozy and the happy ending doesn't come without scars and baggage.

 

My biggest complaint about the book is the level of internal dialog the reader has to put up with as Tara agonises over Nick's safety and whether or not he's alive.  There was just a little too much of it and it became tedious.  Otherwise, a great read and I'm glad I already have the next one ready to go.

 

 

 

 

 

Total pages:  336

$$: $6.00

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review 2017-05-20 05:26
Above the Paw (Paw Enforcement, #5)
Above the Paw - Diane Kelly

Another so-so entry.  Kelly has the plotting down pat, but she struggles with the amount of research to share with her reader; even when it's interesting stuff, it's over-bearing.

 

Megan and Brigit go undercover at a local University to try to break up an ecstasy dealing ring.  Kelly writes this series from multiple POV: Megan's, Brigit's (which is, thankfully, usually only a paragraph or two, because there's only so much doggy POV a reader can take) and the villain's.  She does a bit of slight-of-hand with the villain's POV here and I'm not sure it totally worked.  It did obfuscate things nicely, but she failed to tie it all together in any satisfying way.  

 

It was a good enough read to hold my attention but not quite strong enough to suck me in.  I'd read another one happily, but I won't wait on the edge of my seat for it.


 

 

 

Total pages: 370

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-04-30 20:29
Against the Paw by Diane Kelly
Against the Paw - Diane Kelly

This was an impulse buy. I saw it at the grocery store and was immediately drawn in by the dog on the cover. Even though I knew it wasn’t the first book in the series, it sounded like something a newbie should be able to jump into fairly easily.

Against the Paw is set in Fort Worth, Texas and stars police officer Megan Luz. Megan used to be partnered with Derek Mackey until he made one crude and sexist comment too many and she tased him. Megan was assigned a K-9 partner named Brigit, and Derek’s job was saved by his friendship with the chief of police. In this entry in the series, Megan and Brigit are investigating reports of a peeping tom at Berkeley Place. There’s a possibility these incidents may be connected to Ralph Hurley, a parolee who recently cut off his ankle monitor.

My latest Booklikes-opoly game roll asked that I read something tagged as a “cozy mystery” on Goodreads or elsewhere. Soon after I started reading, I double-checked that this was indeed marketed as a cozy mystery (Amazon lists it as such), because it had a few features that made me skeptical.

The big one was that one of the book’s three POVs was the peeping tom. I couldn’t recall if I’d ever read a cozy mystery that included the villain’s POV, and I found it to be an unpleasant surprise here (there are things I’m okay with in other mysteries or thrillers that I don’t particularly expect or want in cozy mysteries). Thankfully, for the most part it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. The peeping tom’s efforts often went awry in some way. Unfortunately, there were a few more distasteful scenes later in the book - for example, one in which the peeping tom spied on a hijabi and got off on seeing her brush her hair, and one in which the peeping tom spied on a woman having sex.

The book’s other two POVs were Megan (first person POV) and Brigit (third person POV). The Brigit POV parts tended to be on the cutesy side but were usually too brief to be annoying, only a page or two long. They were kind of pointless, though. There were only a couple times when Brigit’s POV contributed a little extra information, and it was never anything that wasn’t covered by another POV later in the book. I suppose Brigit’s POV added a bit of extra humor to the book, but I only really laughed at one part.

Megan’s POV wasn’t bad, but she had some blind spots that bugged me. Some examples:

“Anyone who’d served his or her country couldn’t be all bad, right?” (95)

“[Derek Mackey] and Garrett Hawke were cut from the same cloth. Arrogant. Unreasonable. Uncompromising. Still, they worked to protect others. I had to give them that, even if I thought their reasons were less about concern for others and more about basking in hero worship.” (136)

Megan seemed to be prone to the belief that cops and soldiers were unlikely (or less likely?) to be bad people, even if she had evidence to the contrary. Sure, Derek Mackey was a disgusting sexist pig who apparently couldn’t go more than a few minutes without saying something horrible, but hey, he was also a brave cop. Personally, I couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of how Derek probably handled rape victims (female or male) or, hell, female victims in general.

I did really like the partnership between Megan and Brigit, and the parts that dealt with Megan’s efforts to understand what Brigit was telling her were really interesting. There were a couple times when Brigit correctly identified the peeping tom and Megan misinterpreted her actions, but Megan did eventually catch on.

The characters were okay. In addition to Megan and Brigit, there was Seth, Megan’s boyfriend (still working through some personal issues involving his mother), and Frankie, Megan’s friend and roommate. I could tell I’d missed out on some relationship info by starting this series with the fifth book, but the author provided enough background that I didn’t feel lost.

I don’t feel particularly inclined to hunt down the rest of the series, but this was an okay read overall.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-04-30 11:51
Against the Paw (Paw Enforcement, #4)
Against the Paw - Diane Kelly

I generally like this series; I think the story lines are better than average and the characters are people you can get behind.

 

Against the Paw is probably the least cozy of the 4 I've read, venturing into the slightly darker territory of voyeurism.  As a police officer, Megan has the agency to investigate, and she does so more or less realistically (the last scene dings credibility a bit).

 

I still find the dog POV chapters weird, but they are super short so it's easy to over look it. It's obvious Kelly has done her research; unfortunately I found it a little too obvious.  There's a bit of over-explaining done about the law and about the honour of being a police officer and it makes the narrative lean towards the clunky.

 

Generally though, it was a good read and I'll happily read the next one.

 

 

 

 

Page Count:  352

Virtual dollars: $3.00

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