Title: Murder by Design
Author: Betsy Brannon Green
I just finished reading the five books in the mystery category and found it surprisingly strong. I think it's going to be hard to choose among the five books! Murder by Design is the second book in Green's Midway series (for those of you familiar with Green's work, Midway is just down the road from Haggerty, Georgia so many of the characters are familiar). Midway librarian Kennedy Killingsworth has just helped the police (including her ex-husband Deputy Cade) solve the murder of Foster Scoggins, so naturally townspeople think she's the person to go to when they need a mystery solved. Kennedy sets out to find out who stole wood from an old barn and steps into a new murder mystery. Boyfriend Luke returns from Purdue to woo and fight crime.
There are a few times when I feel like Green's personal prejudices come through (like in how Kennedy's sister Madison has a hard time controlling her kids during sacrament meeting. I know Green had eight kids of her own, but perhaps enough time has passed since they were toddlers that she doesn't remember what a struggle that can be). I'm not sure whether I like all the focus on Kennedy's diet-- she seems to survive on Moon Pies and Pepsi with healthy doses of Hardee's and chicken fried steak thrown in for good measure. It does make her a charming character, but if it were realistic fiction, I think we'd need to see her struggling to button up her jeans or going for long runs to burn off all those calories. Also, the title? Not sure what the book had to do with design, other than the fact that the victim fancied himself a painter.
That aside, I found both Kennedy and the extended cast of characters charming, the mystery believable, and the romance not too gag-worthy. It was a fun read!