Friday, March 15, 2013

Review: Grilled, Chilled, and Killed

Emily Rhodes is still considered a "winter visitor" when it comes to the other Florida residents in town, but she's definitely earning her stripes in this book as she finds herself embroiled in barbecue competitions, running from feral pigs, and poking around in the secretive business of moonshine. Throw in a dead body and a romance that is more aggravation than anything else, and Emily is in for another wild mystery. 

The characters in this book catch your attention from the first chapter. Each one has a backstory that has shaped them, and hangups that occasionally interfere with their decisions. I enjoyed the interactions between the characters. The relationships were well written, complex enough to make them real, but not too overdramatic. 

The villains were especially memorable. I can see why Diehl kept Toby around from the first book. His pathetic qualities mixed with his desire for revenge and penchant for schemes made him a fun and dislikable bad guy. Mr. Smith was creepy and added the edge of fear the situation needed. The definitely made me concerned about Emily and her friends getting out of the situation unscathed. 

The romantic side of this book was quite well done. Emily has both Donald, the slightly odd bass fisherman, and Lewis, the detective who always seems to be stomping on her brilliant plans, both hanging on the edges of her life. Donald was a great character. He seems very straight forward at first, but Diehl does a good job of giving glimpses of a deeper character and potential for doing something truly memorable. Lewis was a fun character as well. He and Emily spend more time fighting with each other than anything, but the sexual tension behind much of their antagonism added a whole other layer that will keep readers intrigued. The interplay between them was very entertaining, and there was just the right amount of tension and giving in. The romance between them stayed fairly mild as far as graphic-ness, but it definitely kept readers attention in other ways. 

The mystery itself was crafted with a lot of thought. Emily goes back and forth between a few theories, and Lewis has his own guesses as well. Diehl did a good job of keeping readers focused on the events while throwing out clues here and there without giving too much away. I enjoyed following the characters through the mystery and stayed entertained and guessing throughout.

My only real complaint was that occasionally the fighting between Emil and Lewis was a little too much. I didn't always think Emily's reactions made sense, but it was a small matter of preference that didn't dull the story. There were some small editing issues, but again, they were small and didn't really detract from the story. This is a book that will appeal to murder mystery readers, romance readers, and crime drama readers. Some of the themes may not be appropriate for younger readers. 

Lesley Diehl invites readers to visit her on her blog and website.

Grilled, Killed, and Chilled is available now from Barnes and Noble and Amazon