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Scot Free by Catriona McPherson
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Lexy Campbell was swept off her feet back in Scotland and packed her bags and headed to Cuento, California to marry dentist Bran Lancer. She had a successful therapy practice in Scotland and was in the process of getting her license to practice in America when she caught him in bed with his ex-wife. She packs her bags and moves out to Reno to get a divorce started then checks into a hotel in Cuento while she sees to her one client a couple of eighty-something-year-olds who were wanting to end the marriage amicably. They had one more meeting to sign the divorce papers but neither one showed up and instead Lexy is asked to come into the police station to answer questions for the police because the man, Clovis "Boom Boom" Bombaro the fireworks king was found dead with a firecracker shoved up his rear that had gone off.

Mrs. Visalia Bombaro is the number one suspect even though she was having her tire changed by the fire department at the time. The police believe a timer was used on the firecracker that was removed later and that someone was working with her. At first, they think that someone was her but security cameras place her in the building the entire time in question. Clovis had been planning to run off with Barbara and the police believe that Visalia killed him in a fit of jealousy.

Not having a car, Lexy walks to the Last Ditch Motel and rents a room from the smartass owner Noleen. She awakens in the morning to Todd in brief Hello Kitty pajamas asking her if he can stay in her room and if she'd take care of the spider in his shower. She agrees and he uses her phone to call his husband Roger. She finds out from Roger that Todd sees bugs that aren't there and that they've moved from their nice house to steadily worse hotels until they arrived at the Last Ditch. They are both doctors and when Roger hears that Lexy is a therapist he wants her to work on Todd but he will have none of that. He isn't the only one that has problems. Kathi the housekeeper has OCD and her and Todd enable each other in their disorders. But soon real bugs begin to arrive at the hotel in swarms in certain rooms.

Meanwhile, Visalia's niece Sparky has arrived before anyone could tell her that her uncle was dead and worse she married a Dolshikov. They run fireworks on the east coast the way that the Bombaros ran them on the west coast. Before he died, Clovis was going to go after them for entering Texas, which he felt was the West and invading his territory. Now with Clovis conveniently out of the way they seem to be ready to take over the Bombaro company and own all the fireworks.

Visalia tells Lexy that her and Clovis had reconciled and were going to Sicily to live out their years in the town their mothers were from. Which gives Barbara a motive. She says she was waiting at the airport but no one can confirm that. Visalia believes the old Sicilian family the Poggios killed Clovis because they were coming back to Sicily and threatening the ownership of the family farm. Lexy thinks this is ridiculous and refuses to tell Mike the female detective running the case. Lexy is playing detective which ticks off Mike but not as much as when she analyzes her in a bad way.

This is a crazy mystery with kooky characters and so many plot twists you'll get whiplash. I really loved Todd. He was such fun to read about. I have to admit I didn't figure it out. This is not the greatest book in the world to read. It's not meant to be. It's a really good beach read. Something light and fluffy that won't strain your brain too much unless you are obsessed with trying to figure out who did it. I wasn't. I just went with the flow of the insanity of this book and enjoyed the ride. I recommend this book. ( )
  nicolewbrown | Jul 25, 2018 |
I've been an ardent fan of Catriona McPherson's writing through 15 of her books at this point. I was curious about this new series of hers which focuses on living the American Dream - California style. It was certainly humorous and really picks up on the stereotypical folks drawn to the sunshine of our far left-side-of-the-country state. It's quite snarky in its conversational banter yet does demonstrate how disparate folks of differing backgrounds bond together to see justice being served, right through to the bitter end.

The writing is good and McPherson does build well the details of unraveling the mystery. It will be curious how she works out Lexy's change of residency status. However, the snarkiness being too much for my taste will probably cause me to pass up the next one in series. I guess I just like my cozies a bit cozier.

Synopsis (from book's back cover):
Lexy Campbell fell in love and left her native Scotland for a golden life in California--hitched to a hunk, building her marriage counseling practice, living the dream. Six months later she's divorced, broke, and headed home. There's just one last thing. Lexy's only client--sweet little old Mrs. Bombarro--is in jail for murdering her husband with a fireworks rocket. Lexy knows the cops have got it wrong; all she needs is a few days to prove it and somewhere cheap to sleep at night. But checking into the Last Ditch Motel brings an unexpected slice of life and a whole world of trouble. ( )
  KateBaxter | Jul 15, 2018 |
I've had a hit-or-miss affair with Catriona McPherson's writing. Her Dandy Gilver historical series is so period correct that the one book of the series that I read reminded me too much of those Golden Age mysteries, which I really don't care for all that much. On the other hand, I loved the one standalone psychological suspense novel of hers that I read, The Child Garden. When I learned of Scot Free, which appeared to be written for laughs, I simply had to try it because I've witnessed McPherson's humor firsthand. This woman is a riot, and she kept us all laughing at Left Coast Crime in 2016.

Scot Free was a tad uneven, staggering a little between the humor and solving the mystery, but I still enjoyed it a lot. The residents of the Lassditch Motel are a quirky bunch who rapidly became Lexy's family. And-- wonder of wonders-- as a first-time amateur sleuth, Lexy's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Her gullibility muddles her investigation more than once. At first, this annoyed me, but it finally dawned on me that most first-timers are going to be gullible and not know what to do from one step to the next. Silly me!

What's more, I loved the humor-- especially Lexy's comparisons between the California lifestyle (which is where McPherson lives now) and that of her native Scotland (where she grew up). Some readers may find these comparisons off-putting and anti-American but it's spot-on social commentary, plain and simple.

With a brilliant cast of characters and the oftentimes hilarious social commentary, I'm really looking forward to the next Last Ditch mystery. You will be, too. ( )
  cathyskye | Apr 10, 2018 |
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Lexy Campbell fell in love and left her native Scotland for a golden life in California--hitched to a hunk, building her marriage counseling practice, living the dream. Six months later she's divorced, broke, and headed home. There's just one last thing. Lexy's only client--sweet little old Mrs. Bombarro--is in jail for murdering her husband with a fireworks rocket. Lexy knows the cops have got it wrong; all she needs is a few days to prove it and somewhere cheap to sleep at night. But checking into the Last Ditch Motel brings an unexpected slice of life and a whole world of trouble.… (more)

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