By Winnie Archer (Provided by A Bookish Mouse)
I don’t often choose to start a series with the sixth book, but when the opportunity to review “Death Gone A-Rye” came along, I had to take it. Why? Because I’ve read other books by author Winnie Archer (under another pen name) and thoroughly enjoyed them! I’m happy to say that this one did NOT disappoint! And as someone who jumped in with Book 6, I can report that it works fine as a stand-alone. I was easily able to figure out who everyone was, and understand the town and relationships.
The characters, especially main sleuth Ivy, were all well-written and detailed. I quickly got to “know” the series regulars, and could sense the depth of past experiences among them that must have been covered in earlier books. The relationships felt real even though I was new to the characters, and I’d love to go back and read earlier books to see how everyone got to this point. Even minor characters were given enough distinguishing features to make it easy to keep everyone straight, and make each person seem like a truly unique individual. I felt like I got to know the murder victim as well, as Ivy learned more about her over the course of the investigation.
And speaking of the murder investigation…it was excellent! Ivy approaches her amateur sleuthing in a methodical, logical way. She does her research, works out her suspect list, then starts interviewing people. I appreciated how she kept reviewing what she’d learned so far, and thinking about her suspects, their possible motives, and how her thoughts about who the guilty party was changed as she gradually learned more facts. A heroine who pro-actively investigates was a nice change of pace from some cozies, in which the characters mostly go about their daily lives and occasionally stumble across clues.
I suspected a couple of people at different times, and was proven wrong in the end. In retrospect, there were plenty of clues pointing to the actual culprit, and everything made perfect sense at the final reveal.
Another note: I appreciated that Ivy is best friends with the main police presence it town, instead of being either a love interest or an enemy. However, the friend was out of town, so the law-enforcement-enemy role was filled by the second-in-command. I look forward to reading Ivy’s next case, when Emmeline is back in charge!
All in all, I very much enjoyed this mystery. Five out of five chunks of yummy cheddar!