The Eleventh Hour
Poppy McGuire Mysteries # 1
by Anina Collins
A - surprise, surprise - free ebook from the Kindle shop, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. That's mainly due to me liking the main character (and her Dad), but more than that I think it is because after what seems like the classic start of a romantic interest, things do not go the way they usually do in books of that kind.
The situation is so typical: When the female heroine meets her male counterpart for the first time, there is an instant dislike. He is gruffly impolite, she is offended. I felt I knew exactly where this was going to lead - turn another few pages, and the two of them land in bed together, and in love.
Well, neither of it happens in that book, but the two do end up working together on the first murder case in a decade in Sunset Ridge, a small town where people know each other from kindergarden onwards, and it seems impossible to keep anything private.
Someone DID keep things private, though, and big time. Poppy, a journalist who has been friends since childhood with the police chief and his no. 1 officer, a pair of brothers, is always curious about what her fellow citizens get up to - not out of malice or wanting to gossip, but out of a genuine interest in life.
Needless to say, eventually Poppy and her new friend, retired big city cop Alex, get to the root of it all and solve the case. Also needless to say, before that happens, they themselves are in danger, and for a while, they are chasing false clues.
Of course, the reader knows that Poppy won't really die - otherwise, this could not be the first book in a series about her. But the twists and turns are surprising enough to keep the reader going "I knew it!" one minute and "oh... I didn't expect that" the next. The story is not too fast paced and not too over-populated with characters, and there are no gory details about the murders (yes, one more person loses their life before the end of the book).
The writing style flows along easy enough to make it a pleasant read, not overly challenging but not dumbed down, either.
I never heard of the author before, and Anina Collins does not appear to have her own website apart from her facebook page. Goodreads.com says about her that she has "always loved a good mystery" and read Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes stories as a child, as well as Agatha Christie. She lives in North Carolina.