V.M. Burns is the author of the Mystery Bookshop series. I enjoyed the first one. But, she really brings a community and characters to life in her first RJ Franklin mystery, Travellin' Shoes.
After a car accident, police detective RJ Franklin is on administrative leave from the St. Joseph, Indiana, Police Department. He can't sleep so he's out running at 2 a.m., and ends up at the house fire where the victim is the choir director at First Baptist Church. That's a little too close to home for RJ. His beloved godmother, Mama B, is a fixture at the church and a force to be reckoned with in the African-American community. When RJ's boss begs him to come back to handle the case, he knows Mama B will be a fount of knowledge. She is. She knows all the gossip, and she doesn't think much of the dead man, Thomas Warrendale.
The pastor, Reverend Hamilton, has a few questions about the victim as well. There's money missing from the church, but he wanted to handle it without bringing in the police. With Warrendale dead, it's time to confess his worries to RJ. As RJ and his partner, Harley, investigate, they learn the attractive owner of two local beauty salons was also missing money. And, the dead man had been her CPA until she realized there was money gone. A local bank could only admit they thought something odd was happening, but they couldn't find out what.
Maybe it had something to do with Thomas Warrendale, who wasn't Thomas Warrendale. He was actually from Cleveland, with another name, where he lived with his wife and worked as a CPA. What was a runaway CPA doing in St. Joseph, Indiana working as a choir director? The case just becomes more convoluted. And, RJ's investigation isn't helped by his attraction to Paris, the owner of the beauty salons. But, hard work by RJ and Harley, along with a few break-ins and Mama B's neighborhood knowledge, will close the case.
Travellin' Shoes combines the best of a cozy mystery with a police procedural. It has a wonderful cast of spirited characters. RJ and Mama B are standouts. She offers the wisdom, neighborhood gossip, and sometimes, the humor in the book. There are even a few recipes. But, there's also diligent work on the behalf of RJ and Harley, plodding work that needs to be done. And, they're dealing with other cases at the same time. As I said, I liked the first in Burns' other series. I loved this one.
V.M. Burns' website is www.vmburns.com
Travellin' Shoes by V.M. Burns. Camel Press, 2018. ISBN 9781603816892 (paperback), 248p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.