Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Bad to the Last Drop by Deb Lewis and Pat Ondarko. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Langdon Street Press (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-10: 1-934938-56-4 (1934938564)
ISBN-13: 978-1-934938-56-0 (9781934938560)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $15.95
Review: Best friends Deb Lewis (a lawyer) and Pat Ondarko (a pastor) together pen their first "best friends" mystery featuring Ashland residents Deb Linberg (a lawyer) and Pat Kerry (a pastor) in Bad to the Last Drop, a cozy set along the northern Wisconsin shores of Lake Superior.
The gathering spot in Ashland is the local coffeeshop, the Black Cat. Pat and Deb are regulars as is Joe Abramov, a Vietnam War veteran who seemed to live in another world, one filled with contacts at the CIA and lottery winnings. But when Joe doesn't show up for 4 days, the Black Cat barista calls the police, who find him dead in his apartment. There is no sign of forced entry, no unusual wounds on the body -- a seemingly natural death. But an autopsy reveals poison in his system giving Pat and Deb an opportunity to play the role of amateur sleuth and solve the mystery of who might have wanted this much beloved, colorful character dead.
The narrative in Bad to the Last Drop is casual, conversational even, not unlike a leisurely visit to a local coffeeshop to enjoy in a cup of Italian roast and catch up with friends and neighbors. It is, however, also somewhat uneven, with frequent backstories that don't necessarily add anything to the story, and a non-linear chronology with passages that start with "Several weeks prior to that morning ..." and "Earlier that evening ..." And though Pat and Deb are the principal characters, several others occasionally share the point-of-view, popping up unexpectedly in the conversation. It's all a bit disjointed.
There isn't much of a mystery here, the story focused squarely on Pat and Deb individually and Pat and Deb, best friends. Still, Bad to the Last Drop is a pleasant book, and short enough (at less than 150 pages) to be completed in one sitting in front of the fire on a cold winter day. (The final pages of the book include recipes "guaranteed good to the last bite" and a short preview of the next book in the series, Too Much at Stake.)
Special thanks to Langdon Street Press for providing an ARC of Bad to the Last Drop for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
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Synopsis (from the publisher): Everyone who frequented the Black Cat Coffeehouse in picturesque, rural Ashland, Wisconsin, knew Joe Abramov. Joe was the local eccentric, a "predictable fixture" at the Black Cat, "as much a part of the scene as the aroma of good coffee." Whether Joe was insisting that the CIA was spying on him or talking about hitting it big in the lottery, Ashland residents came to expect--even depend on--his daily conversations.
When Joe goes missing and is later found dead, the regulars at the Black Cat are understandably upset. But when it's discovered that Joe might have been killed, the town of Ashland is rocked to its core. Best friends Deb Linberg and Pat Kerry take it upon themselves to help solve what becomes increasingly evident is Joe's murder.
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