Review

Dying to Read: The Cate Kinkaid Files, Book 1

by Lorena McCourtney

Cate Kinkaid has been job hunting with no luck. She’s getting desperate, so when her uncle Joe offers her a position with his P.I. firm, she doesn’t hesitate. Who cares that she has absolutely no experience whatsoever and doesn’t possess the natural P.I. instincts she assumes are necessary for this line of work? At least she’ll be earning a paycheck while she continues searching for a “real job.” Besides, it’s not like it will be dangerous or anything. Her uncle assures her it’s just a matter of routine, even boring stuff. It’s nothing like the P.I. shows she watches on television --- no murders, dead bodies, or perilous mysteries.

Of course, that wouldn’t make for exciting fiction now, would it?

"Witty writing, a fun plot, and an eccentric cast of characters render DYING TO READ cozy mystery at its finest. Cate is likable and real, with her bad haircut, quirky personality and endearing naivety --- a balanced mixture of Jessica Fletcher and Stephanie Plum."

DYING TO READ opens with Cate working her first investigative assignment: to locate a woman named Willow Bishop for a client. When she arrives at the address listed in her files, she finds a group of elderly women milling around outside the door. They quickly inform Cate that they are members of the Whodunit Book Club. They are there at club president Amelia’s house for their monthly meeting, but the woman isn’t answering her door. They chalk it up to Amelia’s typical rude and selfish behavior and wouldn’t be surprised if she was just making them wait because she felt like it. Eventually, they get tired of waiting and let themselves in, where they discover Amelia’s body at the bottom of the stairs. Either Cate is suspicious by nature or really does have investigative instincts, because, despite the lack of evidence, she has a feeling that the fall wasn’t accidental.

When her uncle ends up in the hospital with a broken hip, Cate is temporarily left in charge of his business. Because she found Amelia’s body and feels a sense of responsibility to the woman, against her better judgment, Cate decides to snoop around and see what she can uncover about her death. When she goes back to the house, she meets the dead woman’s niece. The visit ends with Cate offering to take Amelia’s now-orphaned cat, Octavia, who seems to have investigative feline instincts of her own. Cate also locates Willow, the woman she was assigned to find. She’s shocked to see that Willow looks remarkably like her and could pass for her sister. They immediately strike up a friendship, but some of Willow’s story doesn’t add up, and Cate doesn’t quite know what to believe. As she continues her amateur sleuthing, Cate is surprised to realize how much she’s enjoying this so-called detective work. She also realizes it’s turning out to be anything but routine, and may be more like those crime shows she watches on television after all. She just hopes the next dead body that’s discovered won’t be her own.

Witty writing, a fun plot, and an eccentric cast of characters render DYING TO READ cozy mystery at its finest. Cate is likable and real, with her bad haircut, quirky personality and endearing naivety --- a balanced mixture of Jessica Fletcher and Stephanie Plum. The other characters are well-crafted, not complex by any means, but just right for a lighthearted cozy mystery. One of my favorite characters is Willow, tree hugger and Cate’s look-alike, who steals the spotlight in every scene she’s in. There is even a bit of romance thrown in for Cate, the relationship adding a bit more depth to her character and the storyline.

Although the dead body turns up almost as soon as the book opens, the mystery slows down for a while before things start moving along again. The story is certainly entertaining enough to hold your interest in the meantime, and once things do heat up, it’s a rapid-fire pace to the end.

If you are a fan of Lorena McCourtney’s Ivy Malone Mystery series, or of cozy mysteries in general, chances are you’ll fall in love with this series as well. After finishing the first installment of Cate Kinkaid’s story, you just may find that book #2 is one you’re dying to read.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on November 18, 2012

Dying to Read: The Cate Kinkaid Files, Book 1
by Lorena McCourtney