This was a freebie I received at Bouchercon 2018 (the author was there, but I never met her and have no obligation to her or Midnight Ink). When I saw this on the freebie table, I immediately grabbed it because it was obviously a cozy mystery, the first in a new series, and I've been looking for new series. It was also an obvious fit for for the bingo Diverse Authors square and the back of the book made it sound like a great read right up my alley. It was ticking all the boxes.
Ok, so maybe not quite all the boxes, as it turns out. There was a lot to like in this book and I think Garrett has found a unique niche for Day's investigations - the refreshingly mercenary angle of "doing it for the money", i.e. investigating the crimes the police are offering reward money for. But there were also a few things that dragged the story down and left me feeling less than enthusiastic.
What I didn't like:
The story was too long and the pace dragged. Every scene was just too detailed and long. A tighter editing process would, I think, have helped a lot without losing any of the story and it would have given the book a snappier pace.
One of the characters, the brains/girl with all the cool gadgets, spoke in text speak. All the time. Do people actually speak in text speak? Because if those people actually exist, they should be smacked about until read words come out of their mouths. It was annoying as hell reading it; I can't imagine remaining calm if someone started speaking it to me.
Slightly less annoying, although only because it's such a frequent device I've become numb to it over time, is the MC never seeing a conclusion she wasn't ready to jump to. At least the author set her up to do it with a believable amount of desperation as a motivation.
What I did like were all the strong female characters; even the shallow ones were likeable and the friendships came across as believable and relatable. I liked Day, the MC, too. Her life is a mess, but she knows it; she has her head on straight, and even though she has a few too many TSTL moments, I found myself cheering her on. I liked the plot too, though it would have been so much better for having had a tighter editing and fewer conclusion jumps. As a reader, I should never lose count of how many people the protagonist has accused of a crime.
Overall, I think the author has a lot of talent for writing mysteries with a solid cast of characters. A stronger editing would have made this a much better book though, and ffs, lose the text speak.
I read this for the Diverse Voices Square for Halloween Bingo.