Meet Cassie Gwynne: bookworm, cat lover, reluctant heiress… and determined detective?
Florida, 1883. Cassie Gwynne is looking for a fresh start when she steps off the steamship at Fernandina harbor for the first time. She’s trying hard to be a proper lady, for once. She’s styled her unruly hair, shined her boots, and even purchased a whole new fashionable (or at least fashionably priced) wardrobe. However, she’s certain finding a body is not very ladylike behavior…
While out exploring the beautiful island with her Aunt Flora, Cassie stumbles across the body of Peanut Runkles, town grump and her aunt’s neighbor, lying at the foot of the harbor pilots’ lookout tower. To make matters worse, because Peanut and Flora have been quarreling for years over everything from Flora’s eccentric ideas to her pet pig’s fondness for Peanut’s vegetable patch, Flora is immediately arrested for murder.
Desperate to save the only family she has left, Cassie vows to prove Flora’s innocence and untangle the mystery herself, no matter how much the surly local sheriff disapproves. Cassie’s brilliant mind and nose for a clue lead her on an investigation that takes her all around the island, and even earns her a valiant furry friend in Esy the kitten.
But how does the mysterious ledger Cassie finds hidden in a secret drawer in Peanut’s desk connect to the crime? Cassie is determined to dig up the truth, but can she catch the killer before her time on the island comes to a deadly end?
This warm and witty cozy mystery will transport you to the island city of Fernandina and introduce you to a feisty heroine far before her time! Perfect for fans of Verity Bright, T E Kinsey and Deanna Raybourn.
I usually enjoy historical cozy mysteries and was hooked by the cover and the blurb that sounded like it might be a bit different. Cassie Gwynne is an heiress (lucky her) and has discovered upon her dad’s death an aunt she never knew existed. So off she goes, to Fernandina, an island city to hook up with the only family she has left.
First, her aunt Flora is highly unusual in that she is an independent perfume entrepreneur who is an animal lover. It’s her pig that first lands her in the pokey when he goes rooting around the neighbor’s garden. Peanut Runkles is the pending victim and though no love is lost to anyone in the town, all points turn to Cassie’s aunt. Right away, you know she’s innocent—right?
A few things I enjoyed: (1) The sense of humor
“So, long as he’s paying, I’m pouring.”
(2) The animals – dogs, birds, cats, including one particular kitten, and, of course, the pig.
Okay, sorry. Two things I enjoyed. What I did not so much:
(1) The length of the narrative. Shouldn’t a cozy be only two-thirds this long? This is one long cozy mystery made longer because I could not get into it.
(2) The characters. So many. Support characters everywhere. A book that requires a chart to keep track of them and what the connection was. Then again, I didn’t care for most of them, including Cassie, so that point goes moot. Clearly, I must have slept through the connection to the heartthrob—or how could she have already known him? This is new territory for her.
(3) Historical questions: LOTS of gum chewing. (Where was she buying all this gum and what was in it?) Wearing a (French?) twist in her hair? Really? In 1883? Other little details that I questioned were common (or at all) in that time period.
(4) Cassie found the body fairly quickly and then due to the ineptness of the local police took another two-thirds of the book to really start making headway while it was Cassie who provided all the clues. And also the twists—not the hair kind.
Some descriptive scenes at the beginning and heavy dialogue dispensing some innocuous minutiae (clothing choices, blah, blah, blah) and the sense of humor is not sufficient to spur page-turning. Sorry, but this obviously is not a book for me. I battled my way through, started skip-reading pages, and still the mystery was no further along. At that point, neither did I care.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Two-point Five Stars
Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Crafts & Hobbies Mystery
Print Length: 343 pages
Publication Date: January 14, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): A Deception Most Deadly
The Author: Genevieve Essig was born in Florida but, after many years of school and other shenanigans in the northeast and midwest United States, she now calls New Orleans home. When she’s not writing historical mysteries or getting lost down research rabbit holes, she spends her time practicing law, shooting pool, performing opera and musical theater, ogling old buildings, acting for film and television, futzing with inventions that address highly specific and possibly only-annoying-to-her problems, traveling, ranting at bartenders about the evils of straws, riding horses, and petting strange cats. If you have suggestions for additional hobbies or are interested her books, please visit her website (genevieveessig.com) or connect with her via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (@essigauthor).
©2021 V Williams