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Board Stiff by Annelise Ryan
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I love this series, it's funny, entertaining and the author crafts great murder mysteries.

I'll admit to more than a little trepidation when it came to picking up Board Stiff. The previous one, Lucky Stiff, had the author throwing everything except the kitchen sink at Mattie and it was painful to read. Truly, I felt like Ms. Ryan had turned against her own main character, and I was cringing in anticipation of what was in store for the poor woman.

But I enjoy so much about this series: Mattie is funny, grounded, and intelligent, with the ability to laugh at herself, although often times she doubts her self worth. Detective Hurley is my kind of male lead: strong, self-possessed, attractive, smart and sarcastic - but not so he-man that he can't be honest about what he wants. Surrounding them is a ring of family and friends, some of whom are odd and eccentric but every one of them supportive and likeable. There are some catty people here and there, but none of them ever come close to overwhelming the story.

Luckily for me, and for poor Mattie, Board Stiff has her back on her feet doing the work she loves. After losing the plot for a few months, she's back on track and keeping a diary at the advice of her therapist. I thought the diary entries (which were not overused) an interesting device; except for the font (it was difficult to read), I found it was an effective way to share the MC's introspective moments and pass on information without feeling like it was filler or an 'info dump'. Curious, because I don't usually have any tolerance for introspection; I want dialog or action.

Issues that arose in the previous book and left hanging at the end (nothing plot related, more character development issues) had a way of resolving themselves in this book. There were two twists that were, I'm sure, meant to be a bit shocking, but I guessed both of them early on. These early realisations didn't ruin the book for me at all, but I do have some concerns about the viability of the series continuing after a 6th book, which saddens me more than a bit.

The murder plot was excellent. Lots of suspects and none of them felt strong enough to me to point at with a mental "ah HAH!" before the final denouement. The author tied everything together at the end quite neatly with a final scene that didn't require any stupidity on Mattie's part. Well, ok, not a LOT of stupidity. I think after all the cozies I've read, I'll hesitate before rushing into any room without looking around first. 'nuff said.

If you like mysteries, give one of these books a try; the POV coming from a deputy coroner isn't one that screams entertaining, but the author might surprise you - she certainly surprised me. I don't know if there'll be a 6th book - there had better be - but if there is, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in Mattie's life. ( )
  murderbydeath | Sep 20, 2014 |
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Sorenson, Wisconsin's deputy coroner Mattie Winston takes on the murder of Bernie Chase, the president of Twilight Nursing Home's board of directors, who was found with a mysterious substance on his body and had been suspected by some of offing the home's more expensive residents.… (more)

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