Dying in Style by Elaine Viets

 This book was this month’s read for the Cozy Mystery Corner Group on Goodreads.  I was pleasantly surprised by this cozy.  Sometimes fashion themed cozies are filled with shallow brand name dropping characters, but this was not like that at all.  Josie is a single mom, who works as a mystery shopper to support herself and her daughter.  She carries out her job wearing a series of costumes to fit in with the nature of each of her jobs.  The descriptions of how she gets into character are quite funny.

She gets involved in a series of murders related to poor reviews she gives a designer store that is in financial trouble and slated for a takeover.  The police suspect Josie of the murder and she begins to investigate in order to clear her own name.  Josie at times seems to charge headlong into danger without much of a plan, but on the whole she is a likable character.  Her mother, Jane, her daughter, Amelia and her friend, Alyce, are interesting sidekicks.  Jane’s plot line is particularly interesting and timely.

I really enjoyed this cozy and will be interested to see how the characters grow and change throughout the series.

Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet


I read this one as the group read this month for the English Kindle Mystery Club on Goodreads.  I have previously read two other books from this author, Death of a Lit Chick and Death of a Cozy Writer.  The two books appeared to be a parody of cozy mysteries, perhaps some kind of satire, but they didn’t really work for me in that form.

This book started out with very much the same tone as the previous books, but then seemed to change  somewhat at around page 100, as though the book couldn’t decide whether it was a cozy or a parody. That was about when we got heavily introduced to the sleuth Max, ex MI5 agent turned village Vicar.  Max as a character just didn’t seem very real.  The whole dramatic event turning him from MI5 agent to a man of the cloth, who just doesn’t seem very religious or all that interested in the village didn’t really work as a character.    He only really sparks to life during the investigation of the murder.

Overall, I was disappointed with this.  Many characters seem cartoonish, not well drawn.  I assume it was intentional, perhaps meant to be a parody, however not funny enough for me for a parody.  The pacing was slow.  I usually finish cozy mysteries in one sitting.  This one I kept finding excuses to put it down and get up and do something else.  There were some point of view issues and other little style points I wasn’t crazy about.

While I will probably not read another in this series, I do know many people really enjoy G.M. Malliet’s writing and she has  won an Agatha for a previous book and that Wicked Autumn has been nominated for an Agatha, so perhaps it is just me.