Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs at http://saylingaway.wordpress.com
Noelle has been reading Fatal Fire by Marla Bradeen
The author described her book as a cozy, chick lit mystery, and it does indeed fulfill all of those descriptors.
Amy Wagner, a busy administrative assistant working in Houston, returns home to Seattle for her younger sister Gina’s funeral. Gina died in a fire in her apartment, and from the beginning, Amy believes the fire was not an accident. For one thing, the fire was apparently caused by Gina’s soap making, and Amy knows that Gina never cooked or baked anything that didn’t come from a box, let alone do something crafty like making soap. When Amy learns the laboratory where Gina worked burned down the week before her death, her suspicions deepen. Amy can’t convince her parents Gina may have been murdered, because although they divorced many years earlier, they are too busy sniping at each other and at Amy to pay attention.
Gina was supposed to be a bridesmaid at her friend Sabrina ‘s wedding, and Amy makes an effort to get to know Sabrina and the other bridesmaids as a way to learn more about Gina and what she’d been doing prior to the wedding. Instead, she gets roped into replacing Gina in the wedding party. Amy also meets Dr. Trent Steinbeck, the head of Gina’s lab. Although initially put off by Trent’s social quirks, Amy discovers he also wants answers and comes to find him endearing during their search for the truth.
The author does a commendable job detailing Trent’s research, and I was impressed at her knowledge of the various factors figuring into bringing a drug to market and the economic forces working against it. There are good red herrings along the way, and before the mystery can be solved, Trent may need to put his own life in danger.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sarcasm and snark of the parents’ interactions and the travails of the bridesmaids as they dealt with a bridezilla. Ms. Bradeen writes with a good sense of humor. There is not a lot to complain about with this mystery, other than three characters who were a little over the top: Amy’s mother, Wendy, was a bit cartoonish in her desire to make Trent her daughter’s boyfriend and plying him with cookies – as if that would seal the relationship; Sabrina, as an extreme bridezilla, made the reader want to slap her; and I wondered whether, after so many years, Amy’s father would continue to verbally abuse her as a second class citizen in comparison to Gina and her scientific career.
The author leads the reader on a merry chase from one suspect to the other, and all in all, this is a satisfying mystery in the classic cozy mode.
4 out of five stars.