This is the second in the series, but as is with most of these types of mystery series you will not have to read the first to get what is going on. Sure you miss the initial contact, that first time the bat hits the ball, but the commentator from the press box who is doing his job well will make sure you are up to speed with this seasons progress of the players as they start rolling in. Jen Estes is pretty masterful in this, I had no clue this was a second in the series, I thought perhaps there maybe a novella or a short story she wrote where I could learn about how she took down a baseball empire in Vegas, but really didn’t care because the story started with a home run and kept going from there. The other team? The ones filled with the players with poor editing, and bad grammar use and the jerk who always yells out the obvious clues and spoils it for me? Ohhh I had a feeling from the first this was going to be a grand slam for the home team and I was rooting! Oh ya! *shoving Apple Pie in my craw* and despite the heat of the Santa Domingo and the hot sexy distractions of some of those players, there is no distracting me from trying to solve the mystery before the end.
I loved the book there are not if’s ands or buts (ok there are the aforementioned baseball players buts, but I think you get where I am going). I absolutely love all the characters, including Aiken’s spoiled brat of a daughter who only seems to be a blithering idiot (ok maybe she is a teensy weensy bit of a vapid cow). Cat, our protagonist, is immediately likable. Her sassy border line snarky… oh heck let’s not be diplomatic about it, she has snark down to a science in this book, both inner dialogues and outer! She fits the perfect amateur sleuth requirement for a cozy. Well maybe a bit less of an amateur because she is an investigative reporter who specializes in exposes, but she is still no cop or private detective and she is not meant to solve all the mysteries which crop up surrounding the main one, some are down right dangerous!
Roger Aiken, the owner of the Buffalo Soldier franchise, is played as aloof to us and untouchable as he seems to be to his daughter Paige Party-girl and Prankster, Paige, (yes the vapid cow), is fashionable to a level that threatens her wearing a neon designer label around her head in the shape of a tiara (oh wait I bet she has one from some fashion runway show that was in their swag bag). Unfortunately for Cat, she suffers from ”ME” Syndrome which unfortunately, again, for Cat means the overpowering stench of Chanel No.5 seeps into everything she is around, unable to wash away even with heavy cleanser and bleach. Her application of a life time of all of this has allowed her above and beyond in her obtaining of a PhD in Spoiled Rich Girl.
The rest of the cast, Chase, whose smile shines a bit to brightly with empty promises and dangerous use of a good meal. Junior, a couch and someone from both Paige and Cat’s past and whose hips need to come swing a bit more towards me if he wants to hit that home run. Yep, I went there, but seriously he is the hot dog and beer that makes the game! Two men, one who should be wearing black and the other white, as long as they have rip-aways, are present, as they should be in a good mystery. We have all the ingredients for the what is gearing up to be one of the tastiest of mysteries to hit the diamond in a long time!
As usual my normal requirements for a mystery can be applied:
--Keeps me guessing till at least 75% of the way through
YEP sure did, I was totally clueless. The author had so many different distracting things going on that were also making the story, I kept losing track of clues and hints. I was totally taken off guard in the end.
--Characters are endearing and well flashed out.
I think I covered that above, they are more than that. You want to just take a couple of them home and keep them locked up in the.. oh umm you know what I mean. And there are a few you want to lock up too, but not for fun! They jump off the page and are real.
--At the end, there is an OMG moment.
This was one of the reasons the story is not getting a full five star rating. As obvious as it was not what they thought it was, what it turned out to be was so cliché I was disappointed, And Asrielle was still in my lap, there was no s but really where else could you go. The method of delivering the unoriginal was unique so it did not take away to much at all. Since I mention one issue I have with the story I may as well mention one other reason to bring it down a full rating point, the obnoxious label name dropping. I know so many novels these days do this but I find it obnoxious and distracting. It is the Catch-22 rule. Is that Jimmy Choo shoes and matching handbag necessary for the story? Does mentioning each label hanging in the closet or leaking out of a shopping bag going to make or break the tale? Nope! Establishing Paige is who she is, wears what she does is a story design element that cannot be avoided when filling out her character build. After that however, After that occasionally bring it up, as in when Paige is talking, would have been fine, but the continuing repetition of naming fashion labels and dresses with or without, was not. Not enough to ruin it, but enough to make it annoying and bothersome at times.
OH and as for the other team? They so lost in fact it was a forfeit, they never even made an appearance. The editing was spot on and professional, the structure was well played, and as I mentioned she didn’t tell me anything at all about what was going on. I discovered each clue as Cat did. Mystery the way I like it served up, with a side of pie!
I enjoyed this immensely and have bought the first in the series, which is set in Vegas. I cannot wait to be able to tear through my personal TBR in December (my own Christmas present to me, after NaNo I will need it) so I can read it. I recommend this to anyone who likes a good cozy, who likes their cozy with a bit of a bump in the oh-la-la factor and likes a good belly laugh in top of it all. Even if you do not like baseball you will get a dig-out with this book! (OK that was my worst one ever but it is getting towards the end I promise no more really painful puns), and honestly. My love of baseball goes this far:
I really only like it when I am playing for fun, I do not like the game. Their boring to watch ( I would rather watch golf or bowling), I hate how long they can be and frankly standing up and screaming hey battabattabatta gets really old really fast. The only time I have ever enjoyed going to a game is when we go to the local ones here. We have a great league and they serve Frito Pie and Pabst Blue ribbon from a 100 Gallon Plastic Tub full of Ice, in a can, man! That means it is an outing with decent food and wining and dining can actually be applied. The other way I like my baseball, my rubber ducky collection. Otherwise, who cares. So for me to enjoy a book which is centered around the sport? Kind of makes me wish for spring to come around, I can almost taste that Frito Pie…
SO I am giving this a solid four BALLS, a nice casual walk AKA read which is a whole lot of fun and where the author has masterfully managed to keep me completely in the dark about what was going to come next for at least 75% of the book!