A SOUR NOTE by Jill Piscitello
SERIES: A Music Box Mystery #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery (Clean)
PUBLISHER: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2023
On the heels of a public, broken engagement, Maeve Cleary returns to her childhood home in Hampton Beach, NH. When a dead body turns up behind her mother’s music school, three old friends land on the suspect list. Licking her wounds soon takes a back seat to outrunning the paparazzi who spin into a frenzy, casting her in a cloud of suspicion. Maeve juggles her high school sweetheart, a cousin with a touch of clairvoyance, a no-nonsense detective, and an apologetic, two-timing ex-fiancé.
Will the negative publicity impact business at the Music Box— the very place she’d hoped to make a fresh start?
A Sour Note kicks off a new cozy mystery series in a way that will keep you invested in the characters for the long term. Particularly when it comes to Maeve, the plucky protagonist who proves you can indeed go home again, in more ways than one.
Once upon a time, Maeve left Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and her then-boyfriend – the swoony Finn – to pursue fame and fortune in the Big City. And for a while she found both in her engagement to a rich and handsome newscaster on a national morning show. But when he is famously caught cheating on her, Maeve is forced to return home to Hampton Beach with no fiance, no job, no apartment, and very little in her bank account. As such, A Sour Note not only follows Maeve’s attempts to clear her friends’ names in a local murder, it also spotlights her search for a fresh start. This allows the author to explore more layers to Maeve’s character as well as the potential for a new romance (which always makes me happy). But will she find love again with sweet Finn (the one who got away) or the hunky detective Spencer who definitely seems interested in Maeve? Or maybe her ex still has a chance to make amends & win her back after all. I like how the author tied up a little of these threads by the end of the book, as well as how she leaves the door open for further development in the next installment.
As far as the mystery goes, I thought it was very well crafted. The victim is easy to dislike, typical for the genre, and the list of plausible suspects seems to grow longer by the chapter. So do the clever misdirects and red herrings, which are mixed seamlessly with the truth and keep you turning the pages and puzzling through the possibilities. And bless her, Maeve is all of us if we decided to solve a case in real life – no matter how sincere our efforts or how many leads we tracked down, we would probably all just stumble into the right answer quite by accident. To me, this made Maeve all the more relatable, and I felt a kinship with her in the solving.
Bottom Line: A Sour Note by Jill Piscitello combines a quaint coastal town, complicated-but-ultimately-uplifting relationship dynamics, engaging characters, and a skillfully-plotted mystery into an entertaining story that’s just the right length for your weekend reading plans. Maeve is a heroine we can all get behind – and even see ourselves in – and the supporting cast is just as compelling. I’ll definitely be tuning in to see where Maeve’s ‘third chapter’ takes her next.
(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 / enjoyed it!
Jill Piscitello is a teacher, author, and an avid fan of multiple literary genres. Although she divides her reading hours among several books at a time, a lighthearted story offering an escape from the real world can always be found on her nightstand.
A native of New England, Jill lives with her family and three well-loved cats. When not planning lessons or reading and writing, she can be found spending time with her family, trying out new restaurants, traveling, and going on light hikes.
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