3 of 5 stars to Mary Ellis‘s Sunset in Old Savannah, the fourth in her “Secrets of the South” mystery series. In this book, the Price Investigation team heads to Savannah to investigate a new case and enjoy this lovely view:
This was my introduction to the series, as I received a free ARC from NetGalley and Harvest House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I will go back to read the first few books, and I suggest reading this series in order to ensure you understand all the history. This was a good ole’ cozy, leaving me interested in reading more, but didn’t spark a major love-fest with the series quite yet. Let’s hit the slopes…
As I didn’t read Books 1 thru 3, I’m not sure I have the full background, but here’s the gist: Michael Preston and Beth Kirby have been working together for a short time as PIs in the Price Investigation Firm. Beth’s a former cop who left the force after a bad experience with a former partner. Michael resigned from his accounting position to take up more investigative work. Their boss sends them from their hometown in Natchez, Mississippi to Savannah, Georgia to help a wealthy woman, Evelyn Doyle, determine if her husband is cheating. Seems a few fights and sparks have happened between Michael and Beth in previous books, but that’s all so far.
After a few days in Savannah, they prove Evelyn’s husband was having an affair with a woman young enough to be his daughter. Evelyn thanks them and mentions she will forgive him and ask him to stop, after all, she is a good, Christian woman. Beth thinks the woman’s a little crazy, but later finds kinship with her, almost looking at her as a mother-figure. The boss encourages the pair to take a few paid days off and relax after finishing the case early. But when they do, they start getting a little romantic and wondering whether there could be more between them. Suddenly, Evelyn calls from jail, needing help to get a lawyer and release — hubby’s dead!
Along the path, Beth and Michael discover some shenanigans in the husband’s insurance business, a brother with a grudge, a confused and bitter jilted lover and some secrets about where the wealth came from. Michael and Beth split the work, track down clues and try not to piss off the local police who want them out of town ASAP. Beth comes closest to tracking down the ultimate culprit and finds herself in need of a rescue at the end.
But the boss, who has too much work in Savannah, asks them to recruit another PI to work out of Savannah for future cases… while solving the murder and helping their client Evelyn, the pair interview potential candidates and take-on a new case at a sushi restaurant where the owner suspects someone’s stealing.
1. The setting is beautiful. Love hearing about the old town squares, the weather, the big homes, the views of the ocean. Helps bring a clear picture into focus for the story.
2. The banter between the two leads can be amusing part of the time. But on the whole, their dialogue felt a bit stiff and planned. Too much unnecessary drama for a couple starting to date. They fell into all the traps of the boring get to know you details.
3. Beth Kirby can be very annoying. In the first few chapters, she’s a complete and utter train wreck to her partner and the client. She seems to think she’s better than everyone else, has a snotty reply that can only be taken one way, and she has trust issues. I’d have dropped her right away… but she gets better throughout the book. Only issue is, there were times where I thought she wasn’t likable enough to read another book. Part of her attitude becomes a little bit of charm along the way, even though she cries several times, which makes me think she’s not well-balanced to handle a job as a PI. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometime’s it’s not.
4. The POV alternates between Michael and Beth, or the focus of their activities does — one or the other. Doesn’t feel 100% consistent. Then when the third detective is added, and a different case being discussed, it feels a little off. While it was a fun short diversion, it won’t work for all readers.
So while parts of the book fell a bit flat, the overall story arch, the characters, the setting, etc. had some good points and I’d be curious to see another book by this author. It’s a decent read, the normal cozy you can handle over a few days and drift off into someone else’s world without getting too caught up. Take it for a spin and get comfy in the historic charm of Old Savannah.