Rating: 3.5 Stars
I started reading cozy mysteries at the end of a year when I was super close to my Goodreads goal but too far off to make it with my usual reads. I read tons of cozies because I could plow through a couple per day. Some of them were terrible and stupid, some were decent, and one series I loved - after absolutely hating the first book. So, I am always looking for another good cozy series that I can read along with Mercy Watts by AW Hartoin (I am super in love with Chuck, Mercy's cousin by marriage but not by blood).
Anyway, the heroine is a decently constructed character and my only problem with her was how long it took her to figure out who NerdyGuy was - her online pal. It was super obvious early on who he was. This aside, Nikki is a tough and determined character and I felt she and her surrounding cast were well-developed for a first-in-series book. She is a talented investigative journalist, which implies a solid level of intelligence, which she displays everywhere else, yet not when it comes to NerdyGuy. SERIOUSLY?!
Nikki is returning home to take over the family business, the television station they've owned for years. Her mother is retiring, and her father was murdered when she was younger. Now she is returning, with encouragement from her 'online buddy' to find out if Ryan is still The One.
Ryan just also happens to be her brother - also not related by blood thank goodness, much like the aforementioned Chuck in the Mercy Watts series. Nikki's mom and Ryan's dad married when Nikki and Ryan were teenagers. Prior to that Nikki and Ryan had dated. This part was all weird and I felt like cousins by marriage dating (like Mercy and Chuck) is not nearly as creepy as siblings by marriage. That part really did not work for me and there could have been some other way to put them into regular contact. In fact, most of their interactions occurred away from their parents' home anyway, so this part really just did not work or make sense. I like cozies that are quirky, not creepy.
Not only is Nikki's father's unsolved murder there in the back of her mind, but her second day home finds yet another murder - and Nikki is the one who discovers it. Her station's lead anchor Ashleigh, who also happened to be her mom's best friend's daughter - someone she has known her whole life but the two never got along well - is dead and Nikki now has two murders to solve.
I figured out Ashleigh's killer from the start. As for her dad's killer, that one got kind of convoluted with the false leads and red herrings. I had my suspicion about who was involved, but I could not figure out the 'why'. It made sense when it was all revealed, and I was off by a little bit, but I can't tell you how I was off because then it will give away who the killer is and that's just not very nice of me to do.
I did not really feel any chemistry between Nikki and Ryan as they made their way back to one another. There was no real tension to speak of, and maybe more backstory in future books will explain why they are each others The One, because it is not obvious as of now.
Despite the issues I had at various times, the mystery was mysterious enough to keep me interested. I will give book two a try whenever it comes out and decide from there. I really liked that Nikki was not just a random reporter who stumbles across a murder and because she was a reporter, she could solve the mystery. I see that happening in more than a few of these cozies and thrillers in general lately and just because someone is a reporter, it does not mean they have the necessary skills to uncover all the clues and solve the crime. Instead, Nikki is a well-respected investigative journalist, tracking down leads and clues is her thing.
Recommended for cozy mystery fans.