I had an English teacher who would have marked me down for the comment I'm going to make about the characters in Josie Belle's latest mystery, Marked Down for Murder. What word would you use to describe Maggie Gerber and her friends the Good Buy Girls when they all team up to help Maggie's nemesis? The most appropriate description is they're "nice" women.
Summer Phillips and Maggie have been competitive since they were five years old. They both liked Sam Collins in high school. They even own consignment shops across the street from each other. But, Maggie has reunited with Sam after he moved back to be police chief of St. Stanley. Isn't it a little childish to worry about competition in your forties? Especially this close to Valentine's Day when Sam is sending roses with message hints. At least it seems that way until Summer's mother comes to town, and tries to break them up so Summer can have Sam. She tries everything, even bribery. That's the last straw for Maggie, who rushes over to have it out with Summer, only to find her archenemy crying over a corpse and holding the bloody weapon.
Worrying about her safety, Sam warns Maggie not to get involved. But, she and her friends are already too involved. It's a small town, and despite her feelings for Summer and her mother, Maggie doesn't think Summer could kill anyone. And, Maggie's convinced Sam just doesn't remember what it's like in a small community. Everyone helps a neighbor. And, of course, she'll tell Sam everything they uncover.
The Good Buy Girls is a series that celebrates friendship, and, in this case, romance, along with the mystery. There's a cast of likable characters, beginning with Maggie, Sam, and their friends. I just love Deputy Dot Wilson. Only "nice" people would rally around to support two women as dislikable as Summer and her mother. But, the twists in the plot force even the reader to sympathize with Summer Phillips. It's a mystery with an unusual turn, but it's the characters who will draw readers back. "Nice" women in a small town don't want to see anyone Marked Down for Murder.
Josie Belle is Jenn McKinlay, whose website is www.jennmckinlay.com
Marked Down for Murder by Jenn McKinlay. Berkley Prime Crime. 2014. ISBN 9780425271360 (paperback), 260p.
FTC Full Disclosure - Both the publisher and the author sent me copies of the book, hoping I would review it.