Happy Monday! It is tax day here in the U.S. I hope you all got those pesky taxes done, and hopefully you are getting money back! If not, I have a giveaway for you today, maybe that will perk you up! I am pleased to welcome author Vicki Doudera here today. She is the author of Final Settlement (Book #4 Darby Farr Mysteries). Let me tell you a bit about Vicki:
Vicki Doudera “masterfully uses the backdrop of high-stakes realty as a great setting for a murder mystery,” says the Bangor Daily News. Her latest release to feature crime-solving, deal-making agent Darby Farr is Final Settlement. “A twisty fourth case that strikes close to the bone for a complex, likable sleuth.” Kirkus Reviews. A broker with a busy Camden, Maine, firm and 2009 Realtor of the Year, Vicki belongs to Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Association of Realtors. Her books are published by Midnight Ink and are available at bookstores everywhere and on-line. Read more about Vicki at her official website or find her on Facebook, Twitter or Goodreads.
Darby Farr's Typical Day
I jump out of bed, silence the alarm, and grab my smart phone from the dresser. I’m an agent. Not a secret agent, not a double agent, but a real estate agent. Showings? Listings? Offers? No matter what the morning, this Realtor’s ready to find the house of your dreams, list a luxury property by noon, or capture a criminal… but we’ll get to that later.
As one of the top-sellers for San Diego’s Pacific Coast Realty, I didn’t get here without drive, desire, and whole lot of Hawaiian coffee. After a quick jog around my beach town neighborhood, I’m showered and dressed. Luckily my wardrobe is simple yet elegant; my black hair naturally glossy and full. Before you can shout “sale pending,” I’m headed onto the freeway in my red Karmann Ghia cabriolet.
You might say real estate’s in my blood. My aunt Jane started the Near & Farr agency with offices in Florida and Maine, and passed both those businesses to me. It’s not easy listing lavish properties, coddling my calculating clients, or handling nail-biting negotiations, especially coast to coast. Real estate can be murder – and I’ve seen the bodies to prove it!
My deals involve danger. I find myself selling A House to Die For, signing up a Killer Listing, or presenting a Deadly Offer. Do I feel threatened? Scared silly? You bet! Fortunatel, I’m an expert at Aikido, and that – plus a quick mind and quick feet – has kept me alive thus far.
I never intended to solve any mysteries, except for the one that still gives me nightmares: my parents’ death off the coast of Maine. I was just thirteen, and their tragic loss marked me for life. Since that day, I’ve had a hard time trusting people, including the handsome investigative journalist Miles Porter, a Brit who can’t seem to leave me alone. (Miles describes me as exotic. My mother was Japanese, and he claims I have her fine features in my oval face. I can tell you one thing: I did not inherit her demure demeanor!)
Back to my real trouble: real estate. Whether I’m in California, on the rocky coast of Maine, in sunny Florida, or somewhere in between, corpses line up like pickets on a property fence. My latest case is called Final Settlement, and I'm hoping it won't be my last. Somehow I manage to solve the crimes, net the commissions and stay professional at the same time. Bring on the bad guys… there’s a new agent in town.
Thanks so much, Vicki! I never knew real estate could be so interesting!
A big thanks to Vicki for taking time out of her busy schedule to stop by today. Thanks to the good folks over at Midnight Ink Books, I am able to offer a copy of Final Settlement by Vicki Doudera Just fill out the Rafflecopter to win. This is open to U.S. residents only. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
Final Settlement (Darby Farr Mysteries #4) by Vicki Doudera
The Dead of Winter...When Murder Returns to Maine. Realtor and amateur sleuth Darby Farr is back in her hometown for the highly anticipated wedding of her fellow real estate associate, Tina Ames. But the festive mood on the snow-swept island of Hurricane Harbor is darkened with tragic news. Lorraine Delvecchio--the police chief's assistant--is found dead, tangled in a lobster trap near the abandoned lighthouse on the Manatuck Breakwater.Working double duty as Chief Dupont's realtor and PI, Darby uncovers evidence that the death was more than just a slip on the ice. Lorraine's history with money is far from innocent, and Darby's suspect list keeps getting longer. With a prominent islander's dramatic ex-wife back in town and Tina's plans to sell a reclusive artist's waterfront home, it's up to Darby alone to find the murderer before she becomes the next victim.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 8th 2013 by Midnight Ink
Three Stars: An engaging mystery that will keep you guessing until the final pages!
Lorraine trudges across the empty frigid beach. It is February in Maine and freezing along the coast, but that does not stop Lorraine from taking her daily stroll. No matter the weather, Lorraine never misses her one mile daily coastal walk. Unfortunately for Lorraine, today is to be her last beach stroll. She climbs the large boulder, like she does every day, and shuts her eyes. When she turns around, she is alarmed to see a masked man behind her. The beach was deserted, she thought. Without warning, he pitches her into the ocean. She struggles to breath, the water is razor sharp cold. She gasps and comes up for air, only to feel a sharp blunt blow on her head and then nothingness......Darby Farr arrives in Maine to attend the wedding of her best friend and colleague, Tina. Darby is hoping for a nice quiet weekend, but she is soon dragged into yet another murder mystery. It seems Lorraine was keeping some sinister secrets and there were more than a few people who had cause to murder her. Can Darby get to the bottom of another murder?
What I Liked:
- I always enjoy a good mystery and I picked up Final Settlement without having read the three previous installments in the series. At no point was this a problem since this book could easily be a stand alone. So if you are in the mood for a wintery mystery, this is a good bet. You can read this book with confidence and not have to worry about events in the other books.
- I loved that this book kept me guessing up until the final pages as to who was behind the murders. There are plenty of suspects and motives and it is a process of elimination. I also enjoyed that the victim kept a log in cipher with the initials of people she was blackmailing. So throughout the book, every time a character was introduced I was checking their initials to see if they might be a fit. This was certainly a clever ploy to keep me engaged in unraveling the mystery!
- I appreciated that Ms. Doudera was able to first make me feel sorry for the victim, but then later she had me changing my opinion as secrets were revealed. By the end, I had a whole different perception of the murdered Lorraine. I also liked the inclusion of Lorraine's super sensitive autobiographical memory. I have heard of people with this ability, but never read about one before, so it was a fun experience.
- Depending on the cozy mystery, sometimes they can be almost a little too light and fluffy, but that isn't the case with this one. It had a believable story line and the events all seemed plausible.
- One of the things I enjoy about a cozy mystery is that they tend to incorporate a small town setting, and that was indeed the case here. This book takes place in Hurricane Harbor, Maine. It is a tight knit coastal community with many close friendships and ties in the small town.
- This book takes place in the dead of winter, and it is one of those reads where you just want to grab a blanket and a hot drink and snuggle up as you read about the winter storms. If you are looking for a entertaining read on a stormy afternoon this is a good pick.
- I appreciated that everything drew to a thrilling close and there was only a couple of left over lingering questions that I am guessing will be followed up in the next adventure. I am always pleased when I get a satisfactory ending and this one did just that!
And The Not So Much:
- After the initial chilling opening scene, the books slows down a bit. The pace dragged just a bit in the beginning, which isn't too much of a problem. It definitely picks up and gets interesting as the clues start to drop. Just be patient.
- Even though I felt like this was a believable mystery, it is always hard to accept the fact that a realtor ends up solving the crime vs. the professional law enforcement, so that is the one factor that isn't exactly plausible. Still it is a cozy mystery and that is what the genre is know for, so just suspend reality and enjoy the ride!
- The story incorporates two different mystery story lines. The first being the murder of Lorraine and uncovering her sinister doings. The second follows Darby finding a family Japanese heirloom box. Inside is her grandfather's journal, in which she learns the truth about her grandfather. Someone is after her box because her grandfather held the key to a biological weapon. Darby is pursued by a person who seeks to unleash this weapon. This second storyline was just as intriguing, but I didn't feel like it was developed to its full potential. In reality, it was probably more interesting than the murder mystery, and so I was a bit disappointed that it didn't play a bigger role. I didn't like that it seemed to resolve so quickly. On the other hand, I didn't find out the details of the helicopter crash, so perhaps there is more to that mystery and it will be expanded in the next book.
- I was a bit perplexed over the return of the Chief's wife. I didn't feel like I really understood her motives for all of sudden returning to her husband after fifteen years absence. I just felt like I was missing something on this storyline.
Final Settlement was an intriguing and entertaining mystery with some interesting clues to decipher. I especially enjoyed trying to fit the initials to the characters to try and catch the killer, unfortunately, I failed and I was surprised at the end. If you are looking for a great cozy read for a stormy afternoon this is a solid little mystery. You can easily pick this one up without having read the previous books and not worry about being lost. I had no problem reading this as a stand alone. However, I am sure the story would be enhanced if I were to read the other books in the series. Take a chance and check out this series!
"Why didn't people consult the calendar when they decided to drop dead?"
"It's darn difficult, this journey we're on. We love and we lose. And we think we'll never love again because it hurts so badly."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.