I have heard good things about Cudney’s writing from a number of book blogging friends, particularly Rae Longest, so when I got the Goodreads invitation to read his latest release, I was delighted to accept. This is my honest, unbiased opinion of the book.
When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder?
I really enjoyed this one. Kellan has had some tragedy in his past life and now is attempting to bring up his daughter alone and establish a career in Hollywood, dealing with an obstructive boss. But that doesn’t prevent him being a chippy character, who isn’t thrilled at returning to the family home, yet again, leaving his young daughter in the care of his in-laws. His father is a rather distant workaholic and his mother seems very wrapped up in her career, while his nan is full of snark and never happier than when she’s feuding with someone, including her frenemy. It’s intriguing to have a murder mystery where a whole family is involved, including Kellan’s sister.
But as is often the case in cosy murder mysteries, this is a closed community. So we get to know a fair number of the characters, including Kellan’s former best friend, who is now the security officer on the campus and the grumpy sheriff who has the responsibility for solving this one. Kellen is busy trying to work out if any of the cast of suspects were actually responsible for the murder, while keeping on the right side of those who are officially attempting to solve the crime. It means this plot is twistier than a corkscrew, while the stakes go on getting steadily higher. There is plenty of snark and attitude as the sheriff is determinedly dismissive of Kellen’s efforts, while his nan is busy trying to find him a girlfriend.
With all this going on, it could have been so easy for the plot to descend into a morass of pointless clues, confused characters and dodgy pacing. However Cudney keeps absolute control of the narrative throughout and the result is a delightfully intricate bit of plotting – I certainly didn’t work out whodunit, and once I did, it made absolute sense. Highly recommended for fans of quality cosy mysteries.