What happens when the Internet service provider in a small town spies on his clients’ cyber-lives and blackmails them for gifts and services?
Murder and mayhem abound in Anna Castle’s cozy mystery novel Black & White & Dead All Over.
Penelope Trigg is new to Lost Hat, Texas. She’s opened a photography studio and has a few clients, some friends, and has started dating a sexy and successful man. Everything is going well. That is until she submits nude figure studies of her boyfriend to a contest. Penny receives an email blackmailing her. If she fails to comply, the blackmailer will splatter the photo all over the Internet. Penny submits. But then people in the town start to die mysteriously. The clues point to Penny. She has to seek out all the secrets in Lost Hat to find the real killer.
Anna Castle’s cozy mystery will have many laughing over the antics of Lost Hat’s residents. Small communities are perfect settings for these types of novels since almost everyone knows everyone else’s business. For the most part. Penny, the outsider, relies on two friends from Lost Hat to guide her through the community’s do’s and don’ts. Their investigation reveals that even in a small town, people do manage to still have carefully guarded secrets.
Even though Penny is the only suspect the police interview in the novel, Castle does an excellent job of introducing a plethora of suspects adding to the fun of guessing who done it. Blackmail and fear can bring the worst out of people, even people who are known for being kind and level-headed. And since the blackmailer has many victims, the suspect pool is vast, and their bumbling small-town shenanigans make for entertaining reading.
There’s not a lot of action in the novel, but that doesn’t matter. This novel is driven by the quirky characters and the setting. Many are desperate to keep their secrets hidden, and all the intricacies of small town life shine even for readers who’ve never lived in such a place. Castle does an amazing job of setting the atmosphere and she sprinkles in details that scream small-town America in a comical way, making readers laugh.
Castle’s writing is solid and she has such a way of creating characters that are unique, funny, and sincere. Even the evil ones. The snappy dialogue is a mix of the Thin Man if he visited Mayberry. The genuineness of the characters really makes the inhabitants of Lost Hat jump off the pages and you may want to move there yourself. Or at least be a fly on the wall.
This is the first book in The Lost Hat, Texas mystery series and it’s a promising start. Hopefully, the author will be able to keep up the quirkiness and charm in future installments. Fingers crossed that readers find this gem of a novel, giving the author a reason to continue. If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted mystery with lots of giggles, look no further. It’s the perfect book for the beach.
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