The first bell of the new school year hasn’t even rung, and Texas high school teacher Jocelyn Shore is already at the scene of a murder. Friend and fellow teacher Fred Argus has been found dead on campus, and it isn’t long before the annoying, albeit attractive, Austin police detective Colin Gallagher uncovers evidence that Fred might have been selling drugs to students. Shocked by her loss as well as the insinuation that Fred was a dealer who got what he deserved, Jocelyn starts asking the kinds of questions guaranteed to set fellow teachers, administrators, and parents on edge.
With the school serving as the setting for a big-time director’s latest film, her investigation could hardly have come at a worse time. Jocelyn, however, finds clearing her friend’s name far more important than the needs of a pesky movie crew and doesn’t care who knows it. But it’s only when she’s attacked while on set that she realizes someone is determined to make sure the secrets hidden by Fred’s death remain hidden no matter what the cost.
I did not read Death on Tour, Janice Hamrick’s first book in this series, and that’s my loss. Jocelyn Shore is one opinionated lady. She speaks her mind, pisses people off, and takes some risks in her quest to find out what happened to her friend Fred Argus. Jocelyn is a cranky kind of a gal, and maybe that’s why I like her so much (she reminds me of myself). Jocelyn’s love life is not going too well either; her long-distance romance with Alan is going nowhere, and she finds homicide detective Collin Gallagher kind of cute. This does not improve Jocelyn’s mood. And to make matters worse, for Jocelyn, her gorgeous cousin Kyla keeps trying to spice up her social life.
Jocelyn is a fun detective; she’s asking some hard questions, as she tries to defend the reputation of her dead friend, and find out who killed him. Like most amateurs who try to solve a homicide, she puts herself in danger. A lot.
Death Makes the Cut is a quick and fun read. The characters are well developed and likable, the dialogue is well written, and the story is well thought out and lots of fun. As I was reading, I had a pretty good idea “who done it,” but Hamrick threw in a few details that I was not expecting, which always delights me. I also like the way Hamrick describes the Austin, Texas heat and humidity; I’m so glad I do not live in Texas! I live in Seattle, where we are lucky to have 14 days a year of temperatures over 75 degrees (which I love, btw). I do not wish to offend anyone, I just love the cool wet weather! Jocelyn often makes comments about the oppressive heat, and I’m sure it adds to her ongoing bad mood.
And I don’t want to be too harsh on this character that I really like; Jocelyn is also grieving hard, missing her friend. Jocelyn’s an oddball, a smart lady who’s quirky and funny and a great friend.
3.5 stars for a cute book that kept me entertained, chuckling, and leaving me wanting more.