Bless her heart. Riley Ellison is the talk of her hometown in Virginia. She's also the amateur sleuth in Jill Orr's fun debut mystery, The Good Byline. It's a mystery for readers who enjoy quirky characters in a Janet Evanovich-style caper.
When Riley's grandfather died, she tried to convince everyone in town that he did not commit suicide. Everyone, from the newspaper staff where he worked, to the police department, scoffed at her. Now, the twenty-four-year-old has spent too much time mourning after the love of her life dumped her after seven years. The people of Tuttle Corner know she's single, and depressed. When she's asked to judge the three-legged race at the annual festival, Riley knows it's time to change her life. She signs up for a dating service, and tries to contact her childhood best friend. But, Jordan, a newspaper reporter, just died from an insulin overdose. Another suicide? To Riley, it's another suspicious death.
Riley isn't the only one who finds it suspicious. Jordan's co-worker, Will Holman, has his own theories. In fact, he's a conspiracy nut, and has all kinds of theories. But, he enlists Riley when he convinces her to dig into Jordan's life. Before long, Riley's life is truly out of control. Her boss at the library has an accident with a gun, followed by a handcuff event. Her first date ends after she rides a roller coaster and vomits all over. Her ex comes back to town. And, then she inherits Jordan's dog who flunked his training as a police dog because he was afraid of guns. Ah, Riley. Bless her heart.
Riley Ellison is an accidental sleuth who bumbles her way through an investigation. But, she'll remind readers of Stephanie Plum, another inept amateur sleuth. Orr's debut mystery is a funny selection with quirky characters. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with Riley's friends and her love life in future books.
Jill Orr's website is www.jillorrauthor.com
The Good Byline by Jill Orr. Prospect Park Books. 2017. ISBN 9781938849916 (paperback), 280p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review it for a journal.