This is the first book in the Hazel Hart series by Louise Lynn and I thought it was a really fun start to the series. It takes place in Cedar Valley which I presume is supposed to be somewhere in Nevada since the main character is a photographer and she realizes people could book photographers in Reno. I have the second book on pre-order!
My Goodreads review:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was really a lot of fun, some good twists, lots of suspects and clues but I have to confess, I figured out who the killer was just not all the twistiness at the end and the total why of it. I credit my high school French for it though 😉
Hazel Hart has just moved back to her hometown of Cedar Bay, NV. She formerly worked for the LAPD as a forensic photographer. She also left to rid herself of her lying, cheating ex, Dylan. She’s got a great photo studio business, her mom, widowed sister and 8 year old niece live close and also have businesses in town. Her bestie, Celia, runs the bakery so there’s pretty much everything she could want.
The same day she spots a mysterious figure in one of her nature photos she was taking of a bear is the same day the newly elected Sheriff Cross comes to town. Not getting off on the best foot with him (he insulted her hat and claimed she jumped line at Celia’s) she’s especially worried when the groom of the engagement couple she was shooting, turns up dead in her Old West studio. She’s certain the new sheriff will want to blame her and she’s worried about losing business from her studio being closed. So like any good cozy sleuth, she takes matters into her own hands and investigates. Hopefully she can clear this up before people forget about her or schedule with another photographer…or worse case, someone else turns up dead.
I really enjoyed these characters! Celia is so funny and such a good friend. Hazel’s little niece is adorable and she loves anything police related–I got a kick out of her, she was like 8 going on 15 and sounded fairly intelligent. Esther is a good mom having lost her husband 5 years ago and trying to keep her bakery going. Hazel and Esther’s mom was so quirky and crazy, her explanation for everything was the ghost did it (this isn’t paranormal though, totally logical explanation). Along with Anthony Ray, Hazel’s somewhat intuitive cat, her mom ended up being instrumental in bringing down the perp who killed two and was ready to kill again.
It was nice how Sheriff Cross softened up a little towards the end. I have the second book pre-ordered so I’m really anxious to see if he and Hazel become better friends in the next one. At least they didn’t end up arguing or being sarcastic with each other. Ha, if they ever have kids they can tell them “Yep your mom and I met when I made fun of her hat!” 😉