Dead in the Alley by Sharon Michalove
Delightful setting and characters with a keep-you-guessing mystery!
Back in her hometown of Sherburne, Michigan, after an 18-year absence, Bay Bishop is the head chef and co-owner with her husband, Derrick Anderson, of the Sherburne Bistro, a successful and much-needed upscale restaurant in the popular tourist destination. She was in the kitchen the day Derrick stepped out the backdoor for a smoke break and was struck down and killed by an unknown assailant on a motorcycle. Bay is devastated by the loss of her partner of 10 years, and when his death is deemed a homicide, she is naturally the chief suspect!
To make matters worse, one of the detectives on the case is her old high school boyfriend, Greg Musgrave, the boy who broke her heart and drove her to leave Sherburne in the first place. The investigation quickly discovers Derrick was keeping a lot of secrets from his wife, including not paying the mortgages on the restaurant or home, insurance, or the bills, and Bay has been left destitute, with the bank taking everything.
She must turn to her family, with which she has a complicated and uncomfortable relationship. And in a place she should have found refuge, she encounters even more secrets, and her parents are absolutely not forthcoming with the answers she desperately needs. Instead, she finds herself drawn back to Greg and discovers her feelings for him are as strong as ever.
Dead in the Alley was an entertaining mystery with a lovely second-chance romance with a plucky, deserving heroine in Bay Bishop. The setting is small-town Michigan, and the story has a culinary-themed foundation. The story is told from two points of view, that of Bay and Greg. However, the greater focus is on Bay, as she takes a lead role in solving the mystery and clearing her name. Deaths occur out of sight, and details are general, placing Dead in the Alley in the cozy mystery category. I loved the characters, the setting, and the whole vibe of the story, and with both main characters still having several irons in the fire, I hope the author is using the book as a jumping-off point for a new series.
Besides the highly likable main characters, there are quite a few secondary characters that really shone. In particular, I liked the two “wingmen” of the story: Terrie Sullivan and Danny Tellman. Their appearances in the story and subplot were usually fun, sometimes snarky, but always delightful. Dog lovers will enjoy Greg’s Portuguese Water Dog, Ace.
The mystery behind Bay’s husband’s murder had several good suspects. The author had me suspecting some characters that were eventually shown to have no part in the events at all: subtle and tricky.
With an attractive and tantalizing Fall setting in beautiful and comfortable small-town Michigan, likable and genuine characters, and a solid, kept-me-wondering mystery, I recommend DEAD IN THE ALLEY to cozy mystery readers especially those who enjoy a culinary-themed story.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Tours.