Jennifer McAndrews launches a new Stained-Glass mystery series with Ill-Gotten Panes. After reading it, I totally understand the comment on the front of the book, "Small-town life isn't all it's cracked up to be."
Usually, small towns in cozy mysteries are charming places, upset only by murder. But, Wenwood, New York, isn't charming. It's a town struggling to survive, and Georgia Kelly finds the townspeople suspicious, and sometimes antagonistic. After her job as an accountant fell apart because of an investment banking scandal, and her fiance dumped her, she retreated to her grandfather's house in Wenwood. But, she never expected the owner of the hardware store to tell her Pete Keene's granddaughter wasn't welcome there. The owner of the bakery wouldn't serve her. What was wrong with these people? At least she found two friends in town, the owner of the antiques store, and a little white kitten that someone dumped in an alley. Georgia certainly can identify with the kitten.
The atmosphere in town doesn't get any better when Grandy, Georgia's grandfather, becomes a suspect in a murder. Grandy had an argument with the dead man, but that doesn't mean he would have hit him over the head with one of the town's Wenwood bricks. As she tries to help her grandfather, Georgia realizes the town's financial problems might be at the root of the murder. And, an accountant just might be able to figure out what went wrong.
Georgia comes across as a weak character at times, quite needy, but her determination shines through when it comes to two things, saving Grandy, and saving that kitten. There are some unanswered questions, characters left dangling, and even some questions about motives. And, McAndrews may want to make Wenwood a little more charming. Saying that, it is interesting to read a cozy mystery in which the town isn't all sweetness and light. A dying town does have more reason for murder. And, with this cast of characters, Jennifer McAndrews may find a few more reasons to kill off some of the townspeople. Despite some flaws, Ill-Gotten Panes still shows promise as the first in a new series. Georgia, the kitten, and the dignified, obstinate Grandy are the best reasons to pick up the next one.
Jennifer McAndrews' website is www.jennifermcandrews.com
Ill-Gotten Panes by Jennifer McAndrews. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425267950 (paperback), 291p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.