SERIES: A Georgia B&B Mystery #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery
PUBLISHER: Crooked Lane Books
RELEASE DATE: July 9, 2019
What’s black and white and dead all over? Georgia bed and breakfast proprietor Nina Fleet finds out when she comes across a corpse in a penguin costume.
Nina Fleet’s life ought to be as sweet as a Georgia peach. Awarded a tidy sum in her divorce, Nina retired at 41 to a historic Queen Anne house in quaint Cymbeline, GA. But Nina’s barely settled into her new B&B-to-be when a penguin shows up on her porch. Or, at least, a man wearing a penguin suit.
Harry Westcott is making ends meet as an ice cream shop’s mascot and has a letter from his great-aunt, pledging to leave him the house. Too bad that’s not what her will says. Meanwhile, the Sisters of Perpetual Poverty have lost their lease. Real estate developer Gregory Bainbridge intends to turn the convent into a golfing community, so Cymbeline’s mayor persuades Nina to take in the elderly nuns. And then Nina finds the “penguin” again, this time lying in an alley with a kitchen knife in his chest.
A peek under the beak tells Nina it’s not Harry inside the costume, but Bainbridge. What was he doing in Harry’s penguin suit? Was the developer really the intended victim, or did the culprit mean to kill Harry? Whoever is out to stop Harry from contesting the sale of his great-aunt’s house may also be after Nina, so she teams up with him to cage the killer before someone clips her wings in Peach Clobbered, Anna Gerard’s charming first Georgia B&B mystery.
“If the incidents of the past few weeks are ever turned into one of those Hallmark Channel murder mysteries, I’ll suggest the producers call it Summer of the Penguins.”
Considering that the main character Nina (pronounced Nine-ah) lives in small town Georgia where the temps are never arctic, especially not in the summer, that first line from Peach Clobbered should pique your interest right from the start. It only gets more engaging from there, as poor Nina must juggle a penguin-costumed actor who insists he has legal claim to her newly purchased home, a gaggle of suddenly-displaced nuns with nowhere else to go, and a murder victim that any number of people wanted dead.
I really enjoyed ‘meeting’ Nina and the rest of the residents of Cymbeline, Georgia. In typical cozy mystery fashion, the quaint town houses a healthy dose of quirky characters as well as a heaping helping of loyal friends and a host of potential suspects. The nuns were particularly endearing, with several chuckles as well as sweet moments, and I hope we might encounter them again at some point. I’m also curious about Harry and the role he’ll play in future books – and Nina’s life. And of course Nina’s faithful companion and sweet dog Mattie totally had my heart.
The mystery is well-plotted and full of twists and turns, including a surprise find or two. Local law enforcement seems competent, and Nina did at least try to play by the rules. I mean, it’s not her fault that she’s housing two of the potential suspects in her impromptu B&B – it’s only logical that she would try to prove their innocence. But she’s (mostly) smart about it which I always appreciate in a cozy mystery heroine.
Bottom Line: Delightfully written with plenty of characters to love (and suspect), Peach Clobbered is a great start to a new cozy series! The author portrays small town southern life with wit, authenticity and fondness, and while I figured out whodunit the journey to get to the why was truly enjoyable. I’m looking forward to finding out what Nina and Mattie are up to next, as well as what role (if any) some of the characters we met in this story will play in future books.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / Love it!
DIANE A.S. STUCKART is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series (writing as Ali Brandon). She’s also the author of the award-winning Leonardo da Vinci historical mysteries, as well as several historical romances and numerous mystery, fantasy, and romance short stories. The first book in her Tarot Cats Mystery series is FOOL’S MOON, available in trade, large print, and Kindle versions. Her Georgia B&B Mystery series from Crooked Lane Books launched July 2019 with PEACH CLOBBERED, written as Anna Gerard.
Diane is a member of Mystery Writers of America and has served as the 2018 and 2019 Chapter President of the MWA Florida chapter. In addition to her mystery writing affiliations, she’s a member of the Cat Writers’ Association and belongs to the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association. She’s a native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, but has been living in the West Palm Beach FL area since 2006. She shares her “almost in the Everglades” home with her husband, dogs, cats, and a few beehives. Learn more about her books at www.dianestuckart.com
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