I received this book for free from Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Game of Gravestones Series: Jane Ladling Mystery #3
on September 26, 2022
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Source: Advance Reader Copy
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She suspects everyone of everything. Except her oldest friend. Who's found next to a body. Holding the murder weapon.
For the first time, things are just right for cemetery owner Jane Ladling. Her cat only kind of hates her sort of boyfriend, Special Agent Conrad Ryan, and she isn't flat broke. When she's asked to host a murder mystery fundraiser for the people of Aurelian Hills, Georgia, she'd totally on board. Champagne, intrigue, and community. Yes, please. Then game night happens and a fake murder turns into a red one, leaving her mentor and knitting buddy Fiona at the top of the suspect list, with heir best pal Beau a close second. Oops?
Jane's not about to leave the fate of her loves one to, well, fate. On the hunt for clues, she turns the small town upside down. As scandalous secrets surface, a single truth becomes clear: if she doesn't solve the murder fast, Jane will be the next victim.
This installment brings us ever closer to Conrad and Jane becoming a couple. If you haven’t started this series, I’ll give a quick recap (also, why haven’t you? It’s such a fun series!). Jane Ladling aka Cemetery Girl to her small town inhabitants,is the caretaker of an old cemetery that’s been in her family for generations. She lives in a small home on the property, and drives a hearse. She has a large and fabulous dress and hat collection, and a small collection of also fabulous friends. She’s the odd quirky girl in town, and she’s okay with that. Maybe. Mostly. But because of the Ladling Curse, she tells herself she shouldn’t get close to anyone anyway and it’s for the best. Ladling Curse states that when the Ladling women find love, their true loves will never last, and the men will die. Enter Detective Conrad Ryan. He doesn’t believe in curses, but he does believe in Jane. And he’s willing to be patient.
This is a Cozy Mystery series, so a la Jessica Fletcher or Nancy Drew, we have a quirky and smart heroine who helps solve the crimes. And of course, the crimes always seem to center around Jane. So this book opens with a costume-themed murder mystery party, with certain people having assigned roles, and others there as guests. It’s a fundraiser and a big town event. Until the scream of the person finding the dead body comes from the wrong direction, and it isn’t the right character. Oh and it’s a real dead body. Yikes.
The number one suspect is Jane’s best friend Fiona, since she is who found the body. But through Jane’s usual chaotic investigating, she winds up making a lot of people mad…and she makes a new friend. She doesn’t want to have another friend because she doesn’t know how to do that, but she and her new friend Lucy really get along well. The biggest problem is that Lucy is also a suspect. Meanwhile, Beau, her head of security and one of her few friends, has his own situation going on that I fully expect to have a Romantic Suspense novel pretty please. Or at the very least his own novella in this series. It’s got the makings of enemies to lovers all over it!
While trying to prove Fiona’s and Lucy’s innocence, Jane and Conrad get closer and closer, and Conrad is a gem, you guys. Such a great hero. I hope the next book gives us so much more of the two of them. This ending though! I can’t spoil this, but there’s a lot going on still and I can’t wait for the next book. I need to know what’s going on.
In typical Cozy Mystery fashion, there’s a death, a nosy busybody, a heroine who helps solve the crime, and a fabulous cat sidekick named Rolex. If you love cozies, this is for you. If you enjoy fun reads, this is for you. If you enjoy aloof cats who have so much personality they take over the page, this is for you. In case you can’t tell, I’m telling you all to go read this book!
***ARC courtesy of the authors